Two recent incidents from our Bizarre Accidents File carry some real-life lessons for those involved. One concerns a charging 1,200-pound cow, the other an actor playing a gunslinger who was injured when he was “shot” with a blank.
First, we’ll look at the case involving the Glasbern Inn in Fogelsville, PA. The inn features farm-to-table dining and has its own farm on-site. It’s hard to miss the fact that there’s a farm on the inn’s 130 acres of land. Except the inn’s workers’ comp insurance carrier says it never knew.
Farmhand Jason Angstadt was injured three years ago when a 1,200-pound cow that had just given birth suddenly charged and barreled into him, damaging his spinal cord and causing the loss of the use of his legs.
Zenith Insurance Co. sought to avoid paying Angstadt’s workers’ comp benefits. The reason the insurance company gave: It said it didn’t know the inn had a co-located farm. In fact, Zenith claims it wouldn’t have agreed to insure Glasbern if it had known there were animals on-site.
It’s kinda hard to hide a 130-acre farm with animals the size of cows. Glasbern’s website extensively features its agricultural operations that include raising its own cows for the inn’s restaurant.
The result of all this: Zenith sued Glasbern alleging bad faith on the inn’s part. The insurance company won and now to be able to continue to appeal the decision in federal court, the inn’s owner, Al Granger, has decided to sell 100 acres of the farm, cows included. The inn will continue to operate and will still raise chickens for eggs used in its restaurant.
Asking price: $2.4 million to fund the bond Granger needs for his appeal.
If the insurance company prevails, the inn may have to pay up to $4 million to Zenith in damages.
It’s usually the number of employees a company has that leads to contention between workers’ comp insurance carriers and the employers they insure. In the Glasbern case, when it comes to “head count,” we’re talking about head of cattle. Just goes to show: Various types of omissions, willful or accidental, can cause this sort of grief between an insurer and the insured company.
‘Hey, I’ve been shot … for real!’
Our second bizarre accident: Robert Bradley worked as a gunslinger at the Ghost Town amusement park in North Carolina.
In a skit several times each day, Bradley would be shot and fall to the ground. Of course, the guns used blanks.
Earlier this month, Bradley was playing his usual part, only this time when his opponent fired his gun, Bradley felt pain in his leg.
The next thing he knew, his pant leg was soaked in blood. Bradley says he rolled off to the side to keep from scaring children who were watching. When his co-workers realized what happened, they covered for him and ended the skit ASAP.
Back in a company office, other workers tended to Bradley’s leg wound.
This is where Bradley’s account of the story starts to differ from that of Ghost Town’s owner, Alaska Presley.
Bradley says they tried to find the on-site first-aid staffer but they couldn’t. He doubts there was one on staff that day. The park is required to have someone on site at all times with advanced first-aid training.
Presley says she sent the first-aid person, but Bradley left the park before he arrived.
At a local hospital, a doctor flushed fine particles out of Bradley’s leg wound. Police believe the gunslinger was hit by wadding, a small disc of cloth used in guns when firing blanks. Unfortunately, we’ll never know for sure. The particles from his leg wound were discarded.
The doctor called Bradley “Lucky.” Whatever hit him became lodged 1.5 inches deep into his thigh and just missed his femoral artery.
Bradley filed for workers’ comp benefits, but now he says he doesn’t expect to get them. Presley says her WC insurance policy requires Bradley to undergo a drug test. Bradley thinks the insurance company is on the prowl for a reason to deny him benefits. “I won’t be part of that,” he said.
Bradley no longer works at Ghost Town. He and Presley also disagree about how that happened. Bradley says he was fired by Presley. She says he quit.
This isn’t the only trouble Ghost Town has found itself in recently. It has suffered through foreclosure, bankruptcy and failed state ride inspections.
We see a couple potential problems in this case. Because whatever hit Bradley’s leg was discarded, no one knows exactly how he got shot by a blank. It’s not unusual for actors in these types of situations to be hit by wadding. Blanks have also (rarely) killed people. Despite that, the gunslinger fights go on at Ghost Town as usual.
Think about it this way: If an employee were injured at your workplace, would you allow evidence to be discarded and then return to business as usual even though the missing evidence would prevent you from finding the root cause of the injury?
In a case involving another type of amusement park, after a whale killed a trainer at SeaWorld Orlando, federal OSHA ordered the park not to allow contact between trainers and whales during performances. SeaWorld disobeyed that order, and the matter is still under dispute.
An investigation by the North Carolina Labor Department may take up to six months.
And there’s also a potential lesson here for employees: If you suffer workplace injuries that are serious enough to require medical attention and/or time off from work, you can bet at some point you’ll face a drug test. If it can be proven that drug use was a factor in the injury, workers’ comp insurers will seek to deny benefits for the injured worker.
For more information about workers’ compensation, see Safety News Alert’s Recommended Safety Links page.