Recently, I overhead someone say that workers’ compensation is the most important area of the law
because almost everyone has some kind of job with potential exposure to work injury. That statement
unleashed the imagination. For instance, who would play Judge Glass in “Van Nuys WCAB: The Movie”
and into which genre would that title fit? Psychodrama, horror, romance? What if there were an award
comparable to the Oscar or the Emmy in workers’ compensation? Who would win and what actor
would play their role in the movie?
Googling what seemed to be ridiculous, “Workers’ Compensation and The Movies,” come to find out,
there was a 2011 TV Movie called “Workers Comp” starring Robert Carradine and Morgan Fairchild
about a family insurance agency and the crazy claims that they managed.
Next, further thought brought “Radium Girls” to mind. This movie is about the American Radium
Company and the women who worked there painting luminous watch dials. They were trained to dip
the paint brush into the Radium, lick the tip of the brush to make a fine point and then neatly paint
numbers that soldiers in the war could see the time at night. These woman had great jobs until their
teeth fell out and the bones in their jaws disintegrated.
Finally “Deepwater Horizon,” about the worst oil spill in history, begins with workers being blown off the
oil rig. At this point, recognizing that the workers’ compensation genre or theme is a thing, I was brave
enough to check “Workers Compensation and TV Shows.” In response, a law firm blog popped up,
Personal Injury and the Movies. This is a broader category than my search but most interestingly, it
included a section on the “The Office.”
Finally, I unearthed another law firm article “The Office: Six Personal injury Lessons.” Here is some real
grist for the mill! This type of “personal injury” more correctly belongs to the Workers’ Compensation
We can only speculate how each of these scenarios would play out at the Workers’ Compensation Board:
1.) Michael burns his foot on his George Foreman grill and calls Dwight to take him to the doctor.
Dwight sustains a concussion when he crashes into a light pole on the way to rescue his coworker. Towards the end of the day, Dwight collapses at work. (No AOE/COE? psyche, head,
2.) Michael’s car impacts Meredith and sends her to the hospital. (industrial MVA? Initial aggressor
3.) Michael kicks a ladder out from under Darryl, who breaks his ankle. (Horseplay? Orthopedic
injury resulting in lost time, possible surgery and residual disability)
4.) Dwight traps a live bat in a bag on Meredith’s head. (psychiatric injury, bite and/or infection
from the bat)
5.) Andy hits Dwight with his Prius in a jealous rage over Angela. (AOE/COE?)
Apparently our area of the law is much more prominently featured in popular media than I had ever
imagined. And it is true that workers’ compensation claims have been known to change the course of
life for an entire family due to the profound influence of injury to a key breadwinner.
Perhaps all of us can take a step back from the crazy volume of paper, phone calls and email that we
receive each day and appreciate that we truly are part of a larger picture and that performing our roles
competently and accountably can positively touch individual lives as well as our shared society as a
Leslie Tuxhorn, Esq., Associate Attorney, Redding Office, September 2021.