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LITTLE ROCK, Ark.An employee injured while jumping into a lake during her employer's team building exercise is entitled to workers compensation benefits, the Arkansas Court of Appeals has ruled.
"Employers and their carriers should fully expect workers compensation law to cover injuries to employees on company retreats and similar outings," wrote Judge Wendell L. Griffen in a concurring opinion in the case of Tina Engle vs. Thompson Murray Inc. and Continental Casualty Co. "It is disingenuous for an employer to set up a company outing, require that its employees attend said outing, then refuse to compensate an employee for injuries sustained at the outing," he wrote.
Ms. Engle was injured in 2003 when she fell while attempting to jump from a bluff and struck her face on rocks protruding from a cliff below, court records state.
An administrative law judge found she failed to prove her injuries were compensable because she was not working at the time of the accident.
The Arkansas Workers' Compensation Commission affirmed the judge's decision.
However, the Little Rock, Ark., appeals court disagreed, finding Wednesday that the purpose of the offsite meeting was for employees to "bond, refresh, set new goals, and have fun" in order to further the interest of their employer.
The appeals court reversed the commission's decision and remanded the case in order to determine a benefit level.