In general, workers will be eligible for worker’s compensation for injuries that occur away from the job site if the injury is work-related. Determining whether an injury is work-related can be somewhat confusing, so courts generally look to see whether the injury was caused by the employment. Some off-site injuries that are typically covered include injuries that occur:
- While traveling if the employee is a traveling salesperson with no fixed job site, or the employer provides the employee’s transportation through a company car or by reimbursing the employee for travel expenses;
- During a company-sponsored event, such as a Christmas party, as long as it is company-sponsored and not just employees getting together on their own;
- During a company-sponsored recreational activity, such as a company fitness program to increase employee health or a team-building event for the office;
- During a recreational activity to entertain potential clients.
Are Injuries Sustained While on Lunch Breaks Covered?
Generally, worker’s compensation does not cover injuries that occur during lunch breaks. However, courts have created several exceptions to this rule. Courts look at whether the employer was benefiting from the employee’s actions at the time. Some examples include:
- If an employee is asked by a boss to pick up a sandwich for him so that he can continue working at his desk, that might be considered an errand for the benefit of the employer and be covered. However, if the employee is running personal errands during his break and offers to pick up food for coworkers, that will probably not be covered.
- If the employer has a company-operated cafeteria, that would provide a benefit to the employer since employees do not have to travel off the premises for lunch and would encourage a quick return to work. Therefore, injuries occurring in the lunch room would be covered as well.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
The laws covering worker’s compensation are state laws, and, therefore, can vary from state to state and be very confusing. If you have been injured in the course of your employment, your first recourse should be to file the proper workers’ compensation insurance forms required by your employer. If the claim is denied, an experienced employment attorney familiar with workers’ compensation law can advise you of your rights and options in contesting the denial of your claim. A lawyer can also represent you in court if needed.