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South Dakota: Horseplay Injury During Lull in Workday Found Compensable

June 12, 2015 (1 min read)







The Supreme Court of South Dakota awarded workers’ compensation benefits to a construction worker who sustained a severely broken leg when he tried to jump a trench while running at a construction site. The state’s Department of Labor and a circuit court had earlier denied the claim, finding that at the time of the accidental injury, the worker had been engaged in impermissible horseplay and, therefore, had deviated from the employment. The Supreme Court held the Department and the lower court had failed to consider sufficiently the fact that the horseplay arose out of a lull in the workday. Quoting extensively from Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the Court indicated that when there are no duties to perform, there is no work to abandon. The injury occurred on a hot day, when several workers had retreated to an air-conditioned truck to cool off. The claimant wanted access to the cool air and tricked one of the co-workers into giving up his spot inside the truck by telling him someone on the other side of the work site needed to talk to him. Later, when the claimant saw the worker he had tricked, the claimant started to run and the other worker began to chase him. As claimant jumped a trench, he landed awkwardly and broke his leg. The Court stressed that under the four-part Larson test, the injury arose out of and in the course of the employment.

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is the co-author of Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law (LexisNexis).

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance. Bracketed citations link to

See Petrik v. JJ Concrete, Inc., 2015 SD 39, 2015 S.D. LEXIS 75 (June 3, 2015) [2015 SD 39, 2015 S.D. LEXIS 75 (June 3, 2015)]

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 23.01 [23.01]

For a more detailed discussion of the case, see

Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law.









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