Missing Word Causes Reversal in Workers Comp Ruling

A workers compensation case that resulted from an injury at a company cookout has created headlines this week when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the cop-op. The omission of one word caused the overturn and is demonstrating just how powerful phrasing on these policies can be. In the wake of this decision, verify you have an adequate Orlando Workers Compensation policy in place to protect your employees and your business.

John Jacobitz was injured at a 2010 cookout held by his employer, Aurora Cooperative. Jacobitz fell from the back of a pickup truck while helping to move a grill for use at the event and suffered permanent injuries. According to his lawyer, Jacob Steinkemper, Jacobitz stated “He’s completely and totally disabled. He’s getting Social Security disability, and that’s very minimal.”

The workers’ compensation court ruled that Jacobitz’s injury did characterize as workers compensation because he was injured during the course of employment at a company party. However, the Supreme Court overturned the decision.

Although the workers’ compensation court originally ruled in favor of the employee, the Nebraska Supreme Court reversed the ruling on July 10th in favor of the co-op. According to Insurance Journal, the Supreme Court argued that the standard for whether an employee is entitled to benefits when injured at a social event tied to employment is a “substantial direct benefit,” not simply a “substantial benefit.”

Justice Michael McCormack noted that the importance of a single word has a lot of significance and must be considered in the ruling. Aurora Cooperative’s lawyer, Patrick Guinan, noted that much more litigation needs to take place before the ruling can be finalized.

At Newman Crane, we understand the importance of an effective workers compensation policy. Although certain glitches like this can occur, it is important to protect your business and your employees. To learn more about our offerings, contact our specialists today at (407) 859-3691.

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