Generally, when an employee steps outside from his employment to engage in practical joking or horseplay, the injury is not covered under the Georgia Workers’ Compensation system. The Courts have not defined what is considered “horseplay.” Instead, it has been treated as a question of fact to be decided on a case-by-case basis.
In Bibb Mfg. Co. v. Cowan, 85 Ga. App. 816 (1952), the court denied workers’ compensation benefits to an injured worker where the injured worker and another employee were throwing water at each other, and the injured worker slipped and fell.
The horseplay defense can also be used to deny injuries to workers based on scuffles between co-workers. In Fidelity & Cas. Co. of NY v. Scott, 215 Ga. App. 491 (1959), workers’ compensation benefits were denied when the injured worker grabbed a co-worker by the neck and a scuffle ensued.
However, certain exceptions do apply. If the injured worker did not participate in the horseplay, he/she may be able to recover workers’ compensation benefits. That is, the injury would be compensable if the injured worker was not a participant, but instead a bystander.
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