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From gang shootings to farm animals, work comp has it all

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Recent court decisions exhibit the array of issues work comp systems grapple with, from urban mayhem to horses gone wild.

An Illinois appeals court, for example, ruled this month that an employer must provide work comp benefits for an employee shot and left paralyzed by gang members shooting from an automobile as they chased rivals in another car.

A stray bullet struck the restaurant worker as she tended bar next to floor-to-ceiling windows. Her employer argued her injuries did not result from her employment.

But the appeals court found that the bar tender worked in a neighborhood where gangs battle over turf, shootings are most common during the late-night hours she worked, and the windows next to her bartending area were adjacent to the street.

Therefore, her work exposed her to a greater likelihood of injury than the general public is normally exposed to.

In Iowa, meanwhile, the Supreme Court recently found that a Domesticated Animal Activities Act prevented a farmhand from suing his employer for negligence after a horse threw a fit, bucked him off, and then stepped on him.

The court found, however, that, the law does not bar the employee's entitlement to work comp benefits.