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Workers' compensation granted to mauled pot-smoking park worker

The process of claiming workers' compensation benefits can be confusing and complicated. But getting those compensation benefits can help an injured worker with medical bills and lost wages. However proving a work-related accident is not always as simple as it seems.

Just recently, an interesting and unique case came to a close; it involved a man who was denied a compensation claim for an injury he sustained on-the-job several years ago. But what makes this situation particularly fascinating? It involved a bear, a park worker and marijuana.

According to the article, the park worker was an employee of Great Bear Adventures in Montana. Though he had allegedly been warned by the park owner to not enter into the bear enclosure, the park worker did so anyway to feed the animals. Though the details of the actual incident are sparse, the man was somehow mauled by one of the bears.

Suffering injuries to his legs and butt, he filed a claim with the Workers' Compensation Court arguing that he was in fact an employee and should be entitled to benefits since the injury occurred at his place of employment. The park owner argued that the worker was not actually a worker, but more of a volunteer. The owner also said that the worker was outside his scope of duties since he had been warned not to enter the enclosure.

The WCC granted the man's workers' compensation claim, noting that there was no evidence that the park worker was impaired at the time despite his irresponsible decision to smoke pot beforehand. The WCC went on to say that grizzly bears do not discriminate against marijuana users when choosing to maul.

Source: CBS News online, "Man mauled after smoking pot gets work comp, says court," Edecio Martinez, 28 March 2011

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