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Man Denied Workers’ Comp After Drunken Accident

August 20th, 2013 at 2:38 pm

A workers’ compensation case was shot down in August by a federal appeals court in Oregon, setting a precedent that will likely affect workers’ compensation across the country, according to an Associated Press article reported by ABC News. The federal appeals court ruled that an “Oregon longshoreman who got drunk on the job, urinated while standing on a dock, and then fell six feet onto concrete should not get workers’ compensation benefits for his injuries,” according to the Associated Press. The accident occurred in 2006. Dockworker Gary Schwirse was at first victorious in court “when an administrative law judge ruled that workplace hazards had been a factor in his fall,” according to the Associated Press. Yet the ruling was reversed when Schwirse dropped the insistence that the reason he fell was because he tripped over an orange cone. Schwirse, according to the Associated Press, “later tried to argue that the very concrete onto which he fell, and not his intoxication, was responsible for his injuries.” The latter also did not hold water in court. Man Denied Workers’ Comp After Drunken Accident IMAGE

Schwirse’s injuries were not severe—he suffered a “cut to his right temple,” reports the Associated Press. He sued the Marine Terminals Corp., according to the Associated Press, who “refused to pay his benefits, arguing that his intoxication was the sole cause of his injury.”

According to an Illinois Workers’ Compensation (IWCC) publication, the rules for claiming workers’ compensation drastically changed in the state in 2011. According to the publication, “for accidents on or after September 1, 2011, precludes compensation if the employee’s intoxication was the proximate cause of his injury or if the employee’s level of intoxication was sufficient to constitute a departure from employment.” This means that Schwirse’s case, having occurred in 2006, would still have been heard in Illinois, but that incidents like his, if they happened now, would not be considered. Additionally, according to the Illinois Chamber Dispatch, in 2012 the IWCC proposed a new rule “regarding the procedures for drug sample collection and testing under the new intoxication standard.”

If you or someone you know has been injured on the job, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation. Don’t go through it alone. Contact an experienced Illinois Workers’ Compensation attorney today.

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