If you suffer an injury that renders you unable to perform your work duties, you may assume that you are eligible to collect workers’ compensation to offset the loss in income. However, if the injury didn’t occur at work, you may not be eligible to collect compensation. That said, there are a number of scenarios where, even though you were not directly performing your work duties at the time of your injury, you can file for and collect compensation. We cover those scenarios and explain when you can collect compensation when you’re not on the clock in today’s blog.
Collecting Work Comp When You’re Injured Off The Clock
Workers’ compensation is designed to help provide financial security if an injury prevents you from working your normal job, but just being physically unable to work does not automatically mean you’ll be able to collect compensation. The workers’ compensation system was put in place to protect employees who are injured during the scope of their employment, not just anyone who is injured and unable to work. So in most cases, if you are injured off the clock, you would not be eligible for workers’ compensation.
However, over the course of the years, injury claims have challenged the definition of a person’s scope of employment to include other aspects of their work life. We’ll provide some examples below of situations where you can likely receive injury compensation even though you were injured while you were off the clock.
Workplace Sidewalks, Parking Lots And Common Areas – If you are injured while you’re in the parking lot, on a sidewalk when you’re walking into or while you’re leaving work, or if you slip and fall in a common area inside the business foyer, you can likely collect injury compensation even though you weren’t on the clock at the time of the injury. Your work duties require you to pass these areas in which the business must maintain a safe environment, so if they contribute to your injury, you can collect compensation.
Travel – If you are traveling for work, or you are traveling to perform actions that benefit the employer, you can likely pursue compensation for any injuries that occur. For example, if your boss asked you to stop by another office on a lunch break to pick up some files, or you’re injured on a hotel staircase while traveling for a work conference, you can collect injury compensation even though the injuries occurred on a break or outside of standard work hours. However, it’s worth noting that a standard commute to and from the office is not considered a workers’ compensation-eligible activity. That being said, if you meet at work and then travel to different job sites during the day, that commute may be covered by workers’ compensation.
Unpaid Work Activities – If you return to work after hours or on an off day for certain work sanctioned events, these may be covered by workers’ compensation. For example, if you are injured during a holiday party or as part of a team building event, you may be eligible for compensation even if you were injured on an off day or while you weren’t getting paid to be there.
Breaks – Even though you’re off the clock during a break, you’re still considered an employee who would be eligible for compensation in most cases. For example, if you slip while you’re in the break room or while you’re walking down the stairs to go grab lunch, you’re likely considered an employee. However, once you leave work property, you may be viewed as being on personal time, unless you are performing work duties. If you decide to go off campus for a sandwich, your commute might not be covered, but if you were given the company credit card and asked to pick up pizzas for the team and you got in a car accident, you would be viewed as an employee performing work duties that benefit the employer at the moment the injury occurred.
As you might imagine, all of these cases where the scope of an employee’s duties are brought into question will be complex, and you can bet your employer’s insurance company will do everything they can to deny your claim. For these cases, it’s absolutely essential that you have a workers’ compensation lawyer in your corner. They’ll review all the evidence and put forth a strong argument that suggests you are entitled to workers’ compensation. Don’t try to fight the insurance company alone, especially if you were injured off the clock or outside of normal work hours. Let us fight for your rights to get you the compensation you deserve.
For more information, or for help with your injury case, reach out to Dean and the team at Margolis Law Firm today.