A Pinckneyville-area high school art teacher was recently awarded workers’ compensation benefits for injuries she suffered as a result of her school’s Senior Prank Day.
In the matter of Field v. Pinckneyville Community H.S. Dist. 101, Ms. Field testified that she was unable to pull her vehicle into the school parking lot on the morning of the incident because student vehicles had blocked off the entrances as part of Senior Prank Day. As a result, she had to park next to the football practice field, across the street from the school. As Ms. Field attempted to cross recently-mowed grass in order to enter the school, she fell because of uneven conditions and fractured her left leg.
SCHOOL “IMPLICITLY APPROVED” SENIOR PRANK DAY
The arbitrator in the case determined that Ms. Field’s accident arose out of and in the course of her employment and awarded her $80,791.00 for 35% of the loss of use of her leg. In making this decision, the arbitrator argued that while Senior Prank Day may not have been a school-sponsored event, the school administrators “implicitly approved” the annual tradition, during which blocking parking spaces was a known activity.
Though Ms. Field had to park farther from the school than she would have normally because of the prank, she still took the most direct route to the school entrance. As such, she encountered dangerous conditions she would not otherwise have because of the prank. Because she was a teacher, Ms. Field was one of the intended targets of the prank. Therefore, she experienced a greater risk of harm than the general public because of her job. Consequently, Ms. Field’s injuries arose out of and in the course of her employment, which is a necessary requirement in order to receive workers’ compensation benefits.