Robert Bradley, a longtime champion of the Maggie Valley amusement park, has worked on and off at Ghost Town for decades as a gunfighter in the mock Wild West Town — arguably the most popular attraction within the park. Throughout the day, Bradley and other actors staged shootouts in the fictitious town for guests.
However, a couple of weeks ago during a scene that Bradley had performed hundreds of times before, he was hit in the right thigh by an unknown projectile from the gun. The incident was deemed an accident and in no way suspicious, but did cause a major injury.
The object lodged itself about a 1.5 inches into Bradley’s leg. Bleeding profusely, he was rushed to the emergency room, where he was asked to take a drug test.
The insurance company that carries Ghost Town’s worker’s compensation policy requires a drug test before awarding claims, said Ghost Town owner Alaska Presley.
“Worker’s compensation demands that,” she said.
However, Bradley refused, saying he believes drug tests are a way for insurance companies to try and get out of paying worker’s compensation. At the time, he was unsure whether he would receive compensation after being injured or get his hospital bills covered.
It is not uncommon for companies to stipulate drug tests in the event of workplace injuries as a prerequisite in its policies.
“If the employer has a policy of drug testing after an accident, then the employee has to take the drug test, and most places do have a policy of that,” said Lawyer Henry Teich of Grimes Teich Anderson law firm, which specializes in personal injury and has offices in Asheville and Waynesville. But, “There is no hard and fast rule about that.”
Although Teich does not know the specifics of Bradley’s case, in general, he said insurance companies might delay paying a claim if someone refused the drug test, but it does not mean the injured person won’t see any money ever.
“That does not necessarily mean he is not entitled to benefits,” Teich said.
Last week, Bradley’s luck seemed to take a turn for the better when a worker’s compensation insurance representative contacted him and told him to send them any medical bills. Although being assigned a caseworker doesn’t guarantee anything, Bradley said he feels more confident that he will get something for his injury.
“I have to,” he said. “I did nothing wrong.”
Bradley said he doesn’t know how much his health care will cost once all is said and done, but it won’t be cheap.
“I’ve never looked at a bill. I don’t know,” he said. “I am sure the emergency room and all that had to be … well, you know how all that is with medical bills.”
If someone is not awarded worker’s compensation or feel they were treated unfairly, they can file a complaint with N.C. Industrial Commission, which can adjudicate disputes.
When asked about the worker’s compensation, Presley said she encouraged the insurance company to pay Bradley.
“I have told the worker’s compensation to do everything they can to help Robert (Bradley),” Presley said.
Bradley no longer works at Ghost Town since the injury. Presley said Bradley quit, but Bradley contended that he was fired. The other gunfighter involved in the accident was fired. Two other gunfighters walked off the job in protest over their coworkers no longer having jobs.
Meanwhile, the N.C. Department of Labor is investigating the amusement park following a complaint that no medical personnel were on-site to tend to the gunfighter’s injury and no water available for the injured person to wash the blood from his hands. Presley has denied the claims.
“All the first aid and everything is completely up-to-date,” Presley said.
The results of the investigation are expected in the next couple of weeks.