Firefighter Will Not Receive Workers Comp Benefits After Horseplay

A firefighter/paramedic who was injured after giving a coworker a bear hug will not receive workers’ compensation benefits, the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC) has ruled. The commission decided that the worker’s personal actions constituted horseplay and voluntarily increased his risk of being injured. The injury did not arise from the worker’s employment and is therefore noncompensable.

In the case, Kaschub v. Darien-Woodridge Fire Protection District, the firefighter was excited to learn that he would not have to work overtime and could therefore take a scheduled vacation to go snowmobiling. He came up behind a coworker and gave him a bear hug. The coworker’s arms were pinned to his sides and he was startled and twisted away, causing both men to fall to the ground and the firefighter to become injured.

The workers’ compensation arbitrator found that the firefighter did not prove that the injury arose out of his employment, and therefore denied him benefits. The arbitrator’s decision was affirmed and adopted by the commission.

The commission ruled that the firefighter offered no evidence that his actions were part of his work duties or that his injury was caused by his job duties or work environment. Rather, according to the commission’s decision, his injuries were caused by his personal actions.

Robert Briskman is a Chicago workers’ compensation attorney and Chicago workers compensation lawyer with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit

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