A lot of injuries have easy answers to whether or not they are eligible for workers compensation coverage. The person in an office who has something fall from a shelf and hit them on the head was pretty clearly injured at work and can file a claim. The person who goes to play pickup basketball at lunch hour and tears a ligament is clearly not covered. But not all incidents are so clear-cut, and the dramatic increase of remote work in the aftermath of COVID-19 can further blur the lines. When can you get workers comp for offsite injuries?
The Workers Compensation Act makes clear the conditions required for eligibility: The injury must have occurred within “the course and scope” of employment. This applies when three conditions are met—the injury took place during work hours, it happened in a place where the employee would be as part of fulfilling their duties, and the injury occurred while the employee was fulfilling those duties or doing something reasonably related to them.
Like many aspects of law, what looks simple on paper can be more vexed when It’s time for real-world application. But it is important to point out one thing that is clear-cut—the location of the injury is not relevant to its workers compensation eligibility. If requiring an employee to be directly on the property of their employer were a required condition of eligibility, that would rule out construction workers and others who do inherently dangerous work off-site. If you work remotely, even if it’s at a desk in your home office, you are still eligible for workers comp, so long as the above conditions are met.
Get good advice and vigorous legal representation for your workers comp claim from Alvandi Law Group, P.C. Call (800) 980-6905 or contact us online to set up a consultation.
Off-site Injury Scenarios & Workers Comp Eligibility
To best understand how the principles of eligibility work in the real world, let’s consider these hypothetical, but realistic, scenarios…
A person is injured while driving to or from the office: Strictly speaking, commuting is not considered to be within the scope of employment. The employee is not considered to be on the job, thereby eliminating the first condition of eligibility. But what if an employee was asked to run errands for their supervisor? Or, what if they were making a work-related stop on the way home? Now, a case can be made that the conditions for eligibility are met. It’s the job of our skilled workers comp litigators to make that case.
A remote employee injures falls and suffers a serious ankle injury: Let’s say it happened when they got up to use the rest room. When this same scenario happens in an office environment, it’s an easy decision—the employee is eligible for workers comp. Technically, the same applies when working remote.
But the isolated nature of remote work can make proving this more difficult. How does the remote employee prove that their ankle injury happened while using the rest room during work hours and not while taking a jog on Saturday morning? Every situation is different, but the best way to start is to get medical treatment immediately. A doctor’s visit or a run to the emergency room will have a date and time clearly on it. A doctor can provide testimony in support of how the injury occurred. Our lawyers can provide further guidance on how to gather evidence depending on your unique circumstances.
An employee is injured at a company picnic: The iconic TV series The Office has an episode where Pam has to go to the emergency room because of an ankle injury during a volleyball game at the company picnic. Would Pam’s ankle sprain be covered by workers comp? The answer is that it probably would be. Even if a picnic is not literally a required activity, such events often carry the perception of requirement, which can be sufficient in the eyes of workers comp. Indeed, in the TV incident, a company higher-up insists Pam get treated on the grounds that her injury could be a company liability.
The employee is injured at a social event with co-workers: A group of employees go out after work on Thursday night. Let’s say a new person at the office feels compelled to join them, so as to fit in with their colleagues or maybe even enhance their chances of promotion. They suffer an injury while out on the town. Is this covered? Here, the answer is probably not. The perception (or even the reality) of office peer pressure is not on the same level as identical pressure from management. So, it’s unlikely that the employee would be considered within the scope of their job duties .
It's important to emphasize that the above hypotheticals are broad and aimed at understanding how officials in California’s workers comp department may approach each case. But the reality is that every case is different. If your injury has any connection to your job, no matter how seemingly tenuous, make sure you contact our lawyers before ruling out a workers comp claim.Alvandi Law Group, P.C. is led by a determined team of litigators and dedicated legal staffers who understand all that’s required to prove a workers comp claim and secure appropriate benefits. If you or someone you love needs help and counsel, don’t hesitate to reach out. You can call (800) 980-6905 or fill out our online contact form to set up a consultation.