When you’re injured at work, you’re entitled to workers’ compensation. This can help alleviate the responsibility of medical bills from your doctor, bills from procedures like x-rays and MRIs or medications and transportation costs associated with an injury. It can also cover much of the wages you lost. If you’re disabled and unable to work in the future, a lump sum of money might be possible.
A worker must be injured while on the job performing part of their duties to get compensation for their work-related injury. This is considered to be an on-the-clock or on-the-job injury. While some employers might try to fight compensation for an on-the-job injury, they’ll most likely fail to win a case with an employee who knows his or her rights.
Beginning and Ending of Liability
There can be a gray area when it comes to defining the beginning and ending of an employee’s work day and the cessation of their duties. There can be an overlap between an employee’s personal time when they clock out of the job if they are performing work-related activities. In some cases, injuries might happen in the parking lot or sidewalk when an employee hasn’t begun or after he’s ended his workday.
In the Course of Employment
Many states have a rule that says that if the worker is performing work-related, assigned job duties for their employer, that employee is entitled to compensation and coverage due to injury. The accident would be covered under the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. While it seems to be a clear rule, there is some dispute and exceptions depending on the circumstances.
Exclusions to the Rule
When heading into work, employees could be said to be performing a job duty for their employer since they’re heading in to do their jobs, but this isn’t covered by workers’ compensation. The U.S. Department of Labor calls this rule the “going or coming” rule or “portal to portal” law. The coverage from an employer doesn’t begin until the employee is at the workplace, and that coverage doesn’t extend to the drive home from work either.
Benefit to the Employer
There are exceptions to this portal-to-portal rule. If the action of the employee is directly beneficial to the employer, the worker can be entitled to compensation. For example, a salesperson who is driving to a customer’s home and experiences a severe accident while performing their duties would be entitled to compensation since the drive to the customer’s house was during employer time and directly benefited the employer. This is also true for construction workers. If you’re required to pick up supplies or visit with clients at another location, you would be performing a duty required by your job that is a direct benefit to the employer.
Special Errands or Missions
If an employer asks an employee to perform a special errand like running to the bank, visiting the coffee shop to pick up snacks for clients or visiting a local government office for part of their duties, that’s considered a special errand. It’s also a direct benefit to the employer and would be covered. Many employers believe that workers’ compensation only covers employees that are within the walls of the business.
Outside of Regular Hours
During certain hours, employees are required to take phone calls or perform duties that relate to the work. A worker might have to take emergency calls on behalf of the business while they’re at home. If an accident were to happen while at home, that would be covered under workers’ compensation.
Unfortunately, employers and their insurance companies will try to deny the legitimacy of the claims when the employee wasn’t on work property. There are plenty of circumstances where there are exceptions to the rules laid out by lawmakers. It’s important that if you’ve been injured off-the-clock, but you were performing duties sanctioned by your employer that you’re compensated for your injury.
That’s why it’s so vital to contact an experienced attorney when you’ve been denied for compensation but believe you have a legitimate case. The lawyer will listen to your claim and let you know whether has validity.