Employee Injured Outside of Work

Topics: Workers' Compensation

Summary: It can be difficult to fully understand what workers' compensation covers when injuries are incurred outside of the workplace rather than injured on the job site. This article takes a closer look at some of the situations workers' comp could cover an injured employee outside work or off the premises.

Injuries Outside of Work or Off the Job – What Does Workers’ Comp Cover?

Most people understand that workers’ compensation insurance covers injuries sustained when an employee is hurt at work, on the premises while performing the daily duties involved in one’s job. An example of one such injury is an employee who falls off a ladder and breaks an arm during a shift. Another might be a worker who slips in a warehouse and sprains an ankle; these are typical job-related injuries covered by workers’ compensation.

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What Happens if You Get Injured Outside of Work?

What about injuries that an employee suffers when not on the employer’s premises? Are any of these incidents covered by workers’ comp? Let’s take a closer look at some of the situations workers’ compensation could cover an injured employee outside of work or off the job.

Injury at Work - Employer Responsibilities

Each state has its own laws regarding workers’ compensation and what it will cover. The main purpose of workers’ compensation coverage is to address legitimate workplace accidents, even those caused by careless employees. It protects employees for a wide range of situations, including both short- and long-term injuries. A short-term injury is one that an employee will recover from in time, such as the aforementioned broken arm or sprained ankle. A long-term injury is a more chronic condition, such as lower back pain or carpal tunnel syndrome.

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Employee Injured Outside of Work - What To Do

Employees injured outside of work can also be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits under the course and scope rule. Here are a few situations where workers’ comp could cover an injured employee:

Company-sponsored events

Some organizations host fun employee events like parties, baseball or volleyball games, picnics and more. If a worker is injured at such an event, some states will consider that a work-related injury and provide workers’ compensation coverage, but rules do vary widely by state.

Some of the key questions that will determine whether the loss is covered include:
  • Was the event sponsored by the company?
  • Were employees expected to attend?
  • Did the employer pay for the uniforms or equipment?
  • Did the employee benefit professionally from being there?
  • Did the employer have all participants sign a waiver?

Out-of-town business travel

Workers’ comp guidelines for employee injuries incurred while traveling out-of-town for business-related activities are a bit complicated. If the injury was suffered while the employee was attending a business conference, this could be considered a work-related activity that is covered by workers’ compensation insurance. In fact, most business travel is considered compensable, as the logic is that the employee wouldn’t be on the road “but for” their job.

Regular workday travel

There are a couple different scenarios when it comes to workday travel and being eligible to file a workers’ compensation claim. What’s known as the “going and coming rule” means that normal workday travel, driving to and from the workplace, is not covered by workers’ comp in most states. If an accident occurs during such travel and an employee is injured, he or she would not be compensated for those injuries. This is because in general, everyone faces the hazards of traveling during their commutes.

When an employee travels as part of their normal workday duties, however, and is injured in an accident as part of that commute, it usually will be compensable. A couple examples include a plumber driving a company vehicle to a jobsite or a home health worker traveling to a patient’s house.

Special employer requests

Employees who sustain injuries after being requested specifically by their employer to travel outside of the workplace could be covered by workers’ compensation. This includes employees running an errand for their employer, like stopping by the post office, dropping off paperwork with a client or picking up a cake for a company party, unless the employee deviated for their own errand or benefit.

Employer-controlled areas outside the main workplace

The most common areas for employee injuries outside the workplace are sidewalks, walkways and parking lots. If the employer “controls” these areas – if they pay a third party to maintain them, own the areas outright or pay taxes on them – and an employee suffers an injury while traveling on them, workers’ compensation insurance would likely provide coverage.

What Can Employee Do If They Are Injured Outside of Work and Outside the Course and Scope of Employment?

Workers' compensation will cover injuries that happen within the course and scope of employment. If an employee is injured outside the course and scope of their employement and is unable to work while they recover, they may be eligible for Family Medical Leave Act (12 weeks of unpaid leave), short-term disability or long-term disability. An employee can also use sick or paid time off while recovering or receiving medical treatment. Some companies may be able to offer alternate duties while the employee recovers. Speak to your boss or HR representative to understand your options. 

Protect Employees with Workers’ Compensation from AmTrust Financial

AmTrust Financial is a leading workers’ compensation carrier for small to mid-sized businesses across the country. Ensure your employees are protected in the event of a workplace injury or accident by contacting us today to learn more.

This material is for informational purposes only and is not legal or business advice. Neither AmTrust Financial Services, Inc. nor any of its subsidiaries or affiliates represents or warrants that the information contained herein is appropriate or suitable for any specific business or legal purpose. Readers seeking resolution of specific questions should consult their business and/or legal advisors. Coverages may vary by location. Contact your local RSM for more information.

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