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Off-Site Work Injuries and Workers' Comp Claims

Injured During Commute, Lunch, Off-Site Event

Many times clients will ask whether or not workers' compensation coverage is restricted to only those injuries that happen within the walls of the workplace. In other words, can there be a workers’ compensation injury and could there be workers’ compensation coverage if someone’s hurt during a commute, if someone is hurt during the course of their lunch hour or if someone is hurt off campus during some sort of company sponsored event at another location?

Injured While Traveling for Work

Many times the answer or the answers to those questions is yes. Workers’ compensation coverage extends to travel and commuting in certain circumstances. For instance, if one of our attorneys is driving to the courthouse to represent a client, whether it’s a workers’ compensation client or another injury client, and on the way to the courthouse gets involved in some sort of motor vehicle collision, that collision is covered under the Workers’ Compensation Act. Similar to other coverages, even if the employee is the only one at fault, it’s still covered under the Workers’ Compensation Act. Additionally, if someone is injured during the course of their commute, and they’re paid for commuting time, that too would be covered.

Workers’ Compensation Claim for Falling in Work Parking Lot

A common situation that occurs is that an employer will designate that a particular worker has to park in a designated parking area or a parking deck. Invariably, what will happen is during the Winter months, that parking area or parking deck will become hazardous due to the accumulation of ice and/or snow, and someone will slip and fall, hurting themselves. Many times the client will then come in to see our attorneys and ask me whether or not they have a workers’ compensation claim and whether or not they have a claim against the owner of the property where they fell.

The answer to those questions is always going to be yes. If the employer tells you where you have to park, and you listened to your employer's instructions and get hurt at that satellite location, workers’ compensation law applies. So you would have a claim both in the workers’ compensation system against your employer, and you also have a claim against the property owner of the parking area or the parking deck in question.

Hurt at Company Sponsored Event

Another common situation involves people who were hurt at company sponsored events such as picnics or charity outings that take place at a location outside of the normal work area. Once again, if the employer is the one who’s directing the employees, and making it a part of their employment to attend this company sponsored picnic or company sponsored charity event, any injuries that result at that particular event are under the Workers’ Compensation law.

That may be another situation however, where that injured worker would have two separate claims. They would have a claim against their employer under the Workers’ Compensation Act, and they may also have a claim against an entity or person other than their employer, who committed the negligent act that resulted in their injury. For instance, if during the course of a company event, somewhere where you slip and fall because a particular floor wasn’t properly maintained or that there were particular hazards in the floor that were not observable, the property owner would be responsible as would the employer.