Court Awards Worker's Comp For Drinking Related Injuries

April 6, 2001 ( - A man who got drunk while on a business trip and suffered severe frostbite after passing out in the cold is entitled to worker's compensation, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled this week.

The 4-3 ruling upheld a ruling of the Wisconsin Industry Review Commission, according to the Associated Press.

The commission had found that William Larsen was in northern Wisconsin expressly for work, but also reduced his compensation by 15% since he was hurt while he was intoxicated.

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Larsen, owner of a metals analysis business, was on a trip to Tigerton, Wisconsin, in January 1996. He stopped off at a tavern and had several drinks, then went to a mobile home that he owned for business trips.

He couldn’t get the door open, then broke a window in the door, got dizzy and fell asleep. When he woke, he was lying inside the trailer with the door open, and his hands were frostbitten from temperatures at least 25 degrees below zero. Fingers and thumbs on both his hands had to be amputated.

The three dissenting justices said Larsen should not receive any worker’s compensation at all. “Simply, there was nothing about his employment that put him in harm’s way,” Justice Patrick Crooks wrote.