“On the Job” Injuries for Workers’ Comp Not So Straightforward
Workers’ compensation laws today provide employees benefits in the event they suffer from a “work-related” injury and can’t work. To many people, this requirement is pretty straightforward. When employees are working and get injured they receive workers’ compensation benefits — end of story, right? Not quite.The meaning behind working “on the job” becomes a bit more complex when, for instance, employees are injured while on their lunch breaks, or while they are driving to and from work. Are these employees “working” for purposes of workers’ comp benefits?
Defining “work related” injuries for workers’ compensation purposes
Essentially, a “work-related” injury is an injury that happens when employees are performing an activity in the scope of their employment or performing an activity on behalf of or in the interest of their employers.
For instance, an individual who develops carpal tunnel syndrome due to long hours typing at a keyboard at work has a “work-related” injury. In another example, a worker who sprains his or her ankle climbing off of a ladder at work has an “on the job”‘ work injury.
Both of these examples are pretty straightforward, but there are other situations that are not.
Injured while driving to work
A common example involves employees who are injured while driving company owned trucks or vehicles. As long as employees are performing job activities on behalf of their employers, it doesn’t matter if they are on company premises. The law says that employees don’t have to be injured at the main location of their employer to qualify for workers’ comp benefits.
So what about employees who are traveling to and from work? Some argue that driving to and from work is an activity that does in fact further the interests of an employer, so it should be covered under workers’ compensation if an injury occurs.
Unfortunately, courts have ruled otherwise. Driving to and from work isn’t classified as “work-related” and doesn’t further a company interest so if employees are injured during this time, they are not under the blanket of the workers’ compensation system.
Speaking with a workers’ compensation attorney
This and many other instances have brought awareness to the gray areas of workers compensation. If you have suffered an injury and are unsure if it’s “work-related,” contacting a workers’ comp attorney is advised. Your lawyer can offer insight into this intricate area of employment law and options available as they pertain to your situation.