Washington argues injury should be covered by industrial insurance
State Sen. Maurice Washington argued Tuesday a legislator’s job goes beyond 8-to-5 and involves a wide variety of events, including a legislative basketball game where he ruptured his Achilles tendon.
He told hearing officer Jim Tatro the Employers Insurance Co. of Nevada should be required to cover his medical costs, which are nearing $10,000.
The Sparks Republican filed for benefits, saying the game was a legislative- sponsored event to raise money for charity and he was participating because of his status as a senator.
The insurance company denied benefits, saying he wasn’t actually at work and being paid as a legislator at the time.
“The real question should be what is the scope of a legislator’s work,” Washington said after the hearing.
Tatro said he would have a written decision within 15 days.
Perry Arnn, representing the insurance company, said the law is clear: “He was not being paid for his participation in the basketball game and it was not part of his work as a legislator.”
Arnn said the law clearly exempts athletic and social events sponsored by an employer from industrial insurance coverage and used the example of a company softball team, saying case law has denied coverage for injuries in those sorts of activities.
“Legislators are covered for injuries sustained in the course of their employment,” he said. “The question is: Did it occur during the scope of his employment.”
Washington said the basketball game was a legislative activity and within the scope of his job as a state senator.
“If it were not for the position of state legislator, I would not have been in the event at all,” he said.
Washington argued lawmakers are different from most other state or private employees because the job involves attending and participating in a wide variety of events outside the legislative building and beyond regular work hours. He said those types of activities should be covered by industrial insurance.
Washington suffered a partial rupture of the Achilles tendon in his right leg during the game April 24. He was operated on May 9 to repair the damage and has been in therapy since. He is still wearing a foot and ankle brace.
He said his medical bills will probably approach $15,000 by the time he recovers fully.
Tatro told both sides they have the right to appeal whatever decision he makes to an appeals officer. If one side or the other still doesn’t like the result, they can take the issue to district court.