Workers' compensation exists to cover people's medical expenses should they be injured during the reasonable performance of the specific duties of their job, like a sushi chef chopping his fingers off or Bret Michaels getting a new strain of herpes. However, some claims are so insane that we're amazed anyone could've filed them with a straight face, yet they are all things that totally happened.
#5. A Woman Breaks a Lamp With Her Face Mid-Coitus
In 2007, an Australian woman filed for workers' compensation benefits after being hit in the face by a lamp that she ripped from the wall while having violent sex in a hotel room on a business trip (this is the only kind of sex that is ever had in hotel rooms).
"You see lamps, I see potential butt plugs."
Her employers initially rejected the claim, as well they should have, on the grounds that sex was "not an ordinary incident of an overnight stay." However, a federal judge overturned the decision, arguing that "no approval, express or implied, of the respondent's conduct was required." By that logic, she could've climbed into the bathtub with a lid of heroin and blasted herself into a coma and her employers would've had to pay for her recovery simply because they'd rented the room.
#4. A Man Breaks His Hip on a Vending Machine
Circuit City employee Clinton Dwyer filed a workers' comp claim after fracturing his hip while trying to shake loose a bag of chips from the break room vending machine, because apparently the vending machine was the Last Son of Krypton and Dwyer was 90 years old.
"We meet again, my old foe."
An arbitrator ruled in Dwyer's favor because he was "injured while coming to the aid of a co-worker seeking personal comfort." Specifically, a female co-worker Dwyer was trying to impress. Catastrophic outcome notwithstanding, we feel that if your big romantic play was a bag of Fritos, the relationship was probably doomed to begin with.
#3. A Woman Trips Over Her Dog at Home
Mary Sandberg was walking to her garage when she tripped over her goddamn dog and broke her wrist. However, Sandberg worked as a decorator for J.C. Penney, and since she was going out to the garage to retrieve some fabric samples she'd temporarily stored there, this technically made her home a "work environment," and she was awarded compensation for the injury, confirming our long-held suspicion that all of J.C. Penney's clothes are stitched together in a suburban garage covered in dog shit.
Above: J.C. Penney's corporate headquarters.
#2. A Woman Accidentally Drinks Lye
Laura McRae was in the break room at Arby's when she mistakenly drank from the wrong cup. This normally results in an unpleasant swig of grape soda when you were expecting a refreshing splash of lukewarm whiskey, but for reasons that can never possibly be explained the cup contained lye, a substance that is also known as liquid superdeath.
"But it says soda right on the bottle."
McRae "suffered third-degree burns to her esophagus," although we imagine it must have taken emergency responders several minutes to discover the source, seeing as how every item on the Arby's menu will cause the human body to dissolve itself from the inside out.
#1. A Man Feeds Bears While High
Brock Hopkins worked as a bear feeder at Great Bear Adventures, which is the single greatest sentence that has ever been written. One morning, he decided to smoke all of the weed in his sock drawer before showing up for his job (which, as we may have mentioned, was to feed bears). Predictable hijinks ensued, ultimately resulting in a bear biting half of Hopkins' ass off before he was able to scramble to safety.
"Oh God, how could this have backfired?"
Despite the fact that the written decision of the court referred to Hopkins' choice to mix weed and grizzly bears as "mind-bogglingly stupid," he was awarded $65,000 to cover his medical expenses (and several pounds of salmon-scented weed).