The most wonderful time of the year is upon us with the NCAA basketball tournament.  Because I help injured workers, I think about the ways I’ve been in touch with injured workers throughout the years that are somehow connected to the tourney.  Here are some scenarios that I’ve been involved with.  Let’s play is it a case or not?

Case 1: Group of co-workers leave the office early and head to a sports bar to watch the games. One of them is walking to the bathroom and slips on a wet floor, injuring his shoulder as he tries to catch himself as he’s falling down.

Case 2: A consulting firm throws a party for their clients, also at a bar. One of the employees at the consulting firm gets black out drunk and picks a fight.  He gets pretty badly beaten up.

Case 3: An employee goes to Vegas for a conference during the NCAA tournament. After one of the sessions he heads outside the hotel to meet friends that happen to be in town for the tournament.  While crossing the street he is hit by a car.

Case 4: A group of businessmen take some clients to tournament games at the United Center. The clients decide to take off after the first game and one of the businessmen sticks around to watch the second game by himself as his alma mater is playing.  His seats are in the section of the opposing team’s fans and he gets in a fight, fracturing his eye socket.

So are any of these cases?

Case one is clearly not a case. Unless it was mandatory that they be there, it was purely a voluntary event that had nothing to do with the job. It may have been a good career move to be there, but if it’s not mandatory or part of the job duties then it’s no case.

#2 would have been a case, but it’s not reasonable for the employee to get that drunk, so I think that activity takes it out of the scope of his employment.  It’s similar to engaging in "horse play" on the job.  Those goofing off accidents aren’t covered either.

#3 is the classic traveling employee scenario and is definitely a case. It’s forseeable that if someone goes to a convention that when their work is done they’ll leave the hotel room.  If that happens and they are injured they would get workers’ compensation benefits.  The only exception would have been if they were black out drunk like the earlier example or doing something reckless.

Finally, #4 is probably a case in my opinion (not everything is a slam dunk).  His being at the United Center originally was for the benefit of the employer.  The fact that he stuck around was reasonable. So unless he picked the fight, I think he’d win a claim for benefits.

If you have questions about these scenarios or anything a tall, please get in touch.