Are you covered under workers compensation insurance if you are injured by a tornado at work?
What if you are injured by lightning at work?
You would think that the answer is yes. That might be the case or it might not be the case. (Typical lawyer answer.)
The first question that needs to be asked to determine if you are covered under workers compensation is: were you on duty?

Ordinarily, a tornado or a lightning strike is seen as an “act of God,” something that the employer has no control over.

But if the injury comes from a hazard which the worker would not have been equally exposed to apart from his or her employment, workers compensation benefits should be paid.

Decisions in states other than Missouri and Kansas shed light on whether workers compensation benefits would be obtainable.

In an Alabama case, an employee who was injured when the telephone he was using was struck by lightning was found by the court to be entitled to workers compensation benefits. The evidence indicted that the employee was required to be on the phone 15 to 18 hours a week and the Court concluded the worker experienced a greater than average risk of being struck by lightning as a condition of his employment.

In an Arkansas case, a worker in a trailer, who was injured after a tornado hit the trailer, was awarded workers’ compensation benefits. The Court emphasized the fact that while the trailer was destroyed by the tornado, other nearby buildings were not substantially damaged. Thus, the trailer exposed the worker to a greater risk of being injured.

An Illinois judge denied workers compensation benefits to an injured worker in a building that was hit by a tornado. There was evidence that many nearby structures were also destroyed. Thus, the worker was not exposed to a greater risk than the general population.

A Mississippi case held that a worker whose job required him to keep a tarp over the brake drums of a dragline during a storm so they remained dry, was exposed to an increased risk and, thus, received workers compensation benefits after being hit by lightning.

The common thread in all these workers compensation cases are that they are highly fact specific. Given that memories fade and information can be lost, it is extremely important to hire an attorney who can obtain statements quickly, obtain photographs of the scene of the injury, gather the weather data, hire experts, and get the evidence needed to make the workers compensation case.

If the evidence shows the employee experienced a greater risk than the general public, the Court most likely will grant compensation under workers compensation.

Dean Law Office, LLC has the staff necessary to act quickly to obtain the needed evidence and experts to make a compensable case.
Dean Law Office can help you with your workers compensation.
Call: 816-753-3100.
Licensed in Missouri and Kansas
No recovery, no fee
Free initial consultation.

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Posted in Workers' Compensation.