Posted by Gary Burger on May 9, 2017
We represented Kelli in a Workers Compensation case for an injury she suffered at the Burning Man Festival in Blackrock City, Nevada. How did we win this claim in Missouri for a Burning Man volunteer?
In 2014 Kelli attended her 7th festival and was official appointed a “ranger” who protects revelers at the end of the festival when the “man burn” occurs. We claimed a military grade laser hit her face causing blindness in one eye and significant degradation of vision in the other.
We began representing Kelli in 2016, a year and a half after her injury. By that time, the time limit to file a Nevada Workers’ Compensation claim had expired (problem 1). Nevada has strict rules about work comp being the exclusive remedy for an on the job injury.
The Burning Man organization had filed an injury report through their insurer in Missouri and provided benefits to Kelli as well. Under NRS 616A.020(6), she gets no other compensation under any law anywhere.
So we pursued the claim in Missouri where Kelli lives. But she was a volunteer and work comp claims and settlements rest on the wage of the employee (problem 2).
Under a 1981 Missouri Supreme Court case, an uncompensated worker who “is in the service of an employer and that employer exercise control, or as the right of control, over the worker”, can recover under work comp.
We look to wage rates for similar services by employees of that employer or any other employer. In Kelli’s case we prepared evidence and documents about the wage and wages for security guards, which is what Kelli was doing at the time.
The Employer/Insurer raised other defenses as well (problems 3,4) like the connectedness of the eye injury to the incident at Burning Man and her level of sight. Kelli had worked for numerous days after this incident with the laser and her initial complaints of treatment to her providers were not clear as they could have been about her eye damage.
We were able to get a significant recovery set aside for Kelli’s future. If you have any other questions regarding Workers’ Compensation or strange and unusual Workers’ Compensation see Burger Law’s Worker’s Compensation page and blogs.