Can a Hug at Work Lead a Worker to Claim Workers’ Compensation?

Arizona Injury Law Group


We might all enjoy a hug now and then, right? But what if you get a surprise hug coming from behind you that you never saw coming (obviously) and your body is not prepared to be swung around or enthusiastically shaken? During such a hug, your neck and spine go out of whack. Now your back or neck hurts all the time, due to pinched nerves and spinal misalignment.

A recent case, Stanis v, Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board, No. 578 C.D. 2020 (Pa. Commw. Ct. (5/23/22), addressed this very situation. The worker endured the hug and two months later, filed a claim, but kept working. The case was denied the first time around and then appealed. In the claim, the worker called the event a workplace assault. Yet, when finally visiting the doctor, the worker did not say it was an assault.

Unlikely Claim


  • The worker continued working in a ‘moderate to heavy-duty capacity’ throughout the time after the event.
  • It took two months before the worker filed the claim.
  • It took a year to see the doctor.
  • The coworker, who gave the hug, claimed the hug was to say ‘thank you for the gift given to him by the worker but it was not an assault.


If the worker had filed a claim within days of incurring some type of physical damage and requested lighter duty, it would have affected the first decision. If the worker had gone to a doctor right away and requested x-rays, the claim might have been approved the first time around.

It might have been out of a sense of embarrassment that the worker did not do any of the above things, thus waiting too long to be believed about what happened. The worker might not have wanted to shame his friend by making the claim of ‘assault’ even if it did feel like one. If you are ever in an unusual situation like this, call an Arizona workers’ compensation attorney immediately for a consultation on what you should do next.

In a relaxed physical state, a sudden event such as an enthusiastic hug from behind and being twirled around could misalign the spinal cord in the back or neck. The resulting outcome could be Spondylolisthesis, where one of the vertebrae in the spine slips out of position. A slipped disc is when the soft tissue between two spinal bones pushes outwards, due to spinal weakness or injury. If that presses against nerves, it can be extremely painful.

If a person has sciatica, then the sciatica nerve is irritated or compressed.  All these outcomes require medical attention. Without immediate medical attention, the situation can get worse. The body also stands differently to accommodate pain but may also cause other physical problems.


If you are injured while at work, it is important to file that workers’ compensation claim right away. Further delay, as in the above case, not only weakens your claim but also getting medical benefits soon enough to help pay for medical help.

Arizona Injury Law Group offers experienced and Certified workers’ compensation lawyers and legal services for injured workers. Call for your free consultation! (602) 346-9009.

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