The worst injury you have faced at work may be a nasty paper cut, and you probably wouldn’t have even thought about making a claim for it – but there are people out there that would try. Statistics show the increase in number of claims even though workplace safety is constantly improving. While there are thousands of perfectly legitimate workplace injury claims made every year, there are some that are somewhat more bizarre. Here are five of the best.
1. Extra-curricular activities
An Australian woman, who was a government worker, successfully received compensation for an injury she sustained while having sex during an overnight interstate trip in 2007.
After meeting the man while out at a bar, the woman invited him back to her motel and during the act a light fixture came loose (although some reports say she ripped it loose from the wall), injuring her nose, mouth and a tooth.
Claiming ‘consequent psychiatric injuries’, the woman’s lawyer argued that she was entitled to compensation from her workplace’s insurer in line with someone who tripped and fell in a shower while working away from home.
2. Department store in the dog house
In the United States, a woman who was working from home broke her wrist after tripping over the family dog while walking to her garage to grab some fabric samples.
The woman who worked as a custom decorator for leading department store, JCPenney, regularly worked from home.
She tried to claim compensation from her state’s workers compensation board but it was initially denied. They said she wasn’t eligible due to her being at home and at a location outside of her worker’s control.
However, the higher courts reversed this decision by saying that her home was her work environment at times – and she was walking to her garage to get work related items, so the employer was responsible.
She received an unspecified amount of compensation.
3. A bearly believable claim
An American man who was mauled by grizzly bears while working as a volunteer at a tourist park after smoking marijuana successfully claimed injury compensation from his employer.
With a job as a bear feeder, the man was always working in a dangerous environment. And some may say, the accident was waiting to happen.
The judge ruled that the marijuana played no part in the mauling – as bears did not discriminate against race, creed, ethnicity or marijuana usage, they were equal opportunity maulers.
He received $65,000 in compensation to cover his medical expenses.
4. Say, what?
After spending 31 years working for one employer in various customer-related roles, one New Yorker claimed that all those years of listening to loud, angry customers had caused her significant hearing loss.
After retiring in 2005, the woman’s doctor found that she had lost over 20 per cent of her hearing. She subsequently filed a claim for compensation but it was unanimously rejected on the basis that there was no proof the employer was in the wrong.
5. A lesson in workplace safety
A British teaching assistant received a whopping $800,000 in compensation after she tripped at work and dislocated her finger.
While moving a wheelchair, Mrs Julie Ann Huddart tripped on a loose strap from the chair, injuring her elbow and dislocating her finger, which resulted in ongoing reflex sympathetic dystrophy – a malfunction of the nervous system that causes pain and swelling.
Her lawyer argued she was left in constant pain down her left side and was dependent on the care of her husband. It took her nine years until the claim was settled outside of courts.
At the time, the case caused a huge furore among those that had received much smaller payouts for more serious injuries.
In similar British cases, teachers have received workplace injury compensation for hitting their head on a door that wouldn’t open, tinnitus caused by feedback from a large megaphone, and back pain from regularly pushing a wheelchair-bound student around.
So if you have had an injury at work that has resulted in out-of-pocket expenses and you think it is too outrageous to make a compensation claim – these cases may make you think again.