Although it is supposed to be simple and straightforward, workers’ compensation can be a confusing mix of rules, exceptions and caveats. It’s not always clear which injuries are covered, which scenarios count as work-related and where an employee needs to be when an injury happens (in order to be eligible for benefits).
In today’s post, we’ll give you a basic overview (but not a comprehensive one) that hopefully clears up some confusion.
The Basics Of Workers’ Compensation Eligibility
In order to be eligible for benefits, you generally need to:
- Work for an employer who carries (or is required to carry) workers’ compensation insurance
- Be considered an employee of the company (as opposed to, say, an independent contractor)
- Be injured on-the-job or otherwise in the course of employment
- Report your injury and file your claim within the given time limit
The third requirement is the trickiest. Injuries that directly relate to your main job duties and occur on-the-clock are usually the most straightforward (such as injuring your back while lifting a heavy box in the stockroom of a store where you work).
But there are other scenarios that could also count as work-related. Some are discussed below.
Work-sponsored social events (in or out of the office): Were you hurt at the office Christmas party? Or hurt while attending a networking conference? If your employer provided alcohol, the company may also be liable for any injuries that occur related to drinking.
Driving for work (other than commuting): If your job requires on-the-clock travel, or driving is the main aspect of your work, you would likely be eligible for injuries suffered in a car accident or similar scenario. Commuting to and from work usually doesn’t count, though.
Injuries during lunch and other breaks: If you fell in the office cafeteria or had scalding soup dumped on you, you might be eligible for benefits even though you were on lunch break. Similarly, if you left work to go to lunch with a client (or otherwise perform a work-related duty), any injuries you sustained would likely be eligible.
If you’ve been injured in an accident related to work but aren’t sure about your options or eligibility, please contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney in your area.