Injured employee snakebitten by employer on work comp claim

On Behalf of | Aug 31, 2016 | Workers' Compensation

At its core, workers compensation is supposed to help injured workers make ends meet while they recover from injuries suffered from on-the-job accidents. In many of our posts, we have highlighted construction accidents, industrial site mishaps and even claims based on the excessive wearing of high heels. But should workers’ compensation pay for medical expenses and time lost when an employee is a snake bite victim?

That is the question being posed as a woman reportedly bitten by a baby copperhead snake. The poisonous venom caused her foot to swell considerably, and she had to spend three days in the hospital while receiving two doses of anti venom. She was not readily able to return to work, so she filed a workers’ compensation claim. In Arizona, if she was at work and in the course and scope of her employment, the bite should be covered.

Unfortunately, her employer refused to pay the claim. According to media reports, the company is basing its response upon its interpretation of the state’s workers’ compensation statute. No other reason is being made public, but it ostensibly stems from the notion that if an employee is not currently working (i.e. on a lunch break or away from the worksite), workers’ compensation rules do not apply.

Here the employee was on a break, and was still on the employer’s premises when she was bitten by the snake. Indeed, there may be differing recollections in regard to the facts, but this case exemplifies the need for an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to articulate the correct definitions so that unscrupulous employers do not shirk their duties when it comes to properly compensating  injured employees.