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Workers’ compensation provides medical and related benefits to employees who are injured “in the course and scope of employment.” What exactly does that mean? For instance, could you seek workers’ compensation benefits if you are injured in a car accident while driving to work?
Injuries While Traveling for Work
Generally speaking, the answer is no. Workers’ compensation is designed to handle claims for “on the job” injuries. This excludes events outside of normal working hours such as commuting to and from a workplace. It even excludes incidents that may occur near a workplace like a parking lot.
However, if an employee’s job requires travel during working hours, that is a different story. Let’s say an employer needs an employee to spend several days working at a remote location. The employer decides to put the employee up at a hotel so she does not have to commute home every night. If the employee is then injured in a car accident while traveling from her hotel to the job site, that would likely be considered an injury subject to workers’ compensation. The injury occurred in the “course and scope” of employment since the employee would not have been at the hotel in the first place but-for her employer’s direction.
Injuries at Work-Sponsored Social Events
But what about non-work activities sponsored by your employer? In other words, if you are injured at the company picnic, can you receive workers’ compensation benefits? Again, the answer is generally no.
Florida workers’ compensation law exempts most “recreational and social activities” from workers’ compensation. For example, in a 2005 case, a Florida court denied a deputy sheriff’s claim for workers’ compensation benefits after she was injured during an inter-departmental softball game. Even though the deputy was technically on-call and getting paid during the game, the court held the injury did not occur in the course of her employment.
Indeed, an employee can only seek workers’ compensation benefits for injuries that occur during recreational activities if they are “expressly required” as part of the job and produce some “direct benefit” for the employer beyond improving employee morale. This means that an employee can never receive workers’ compensation benefits for a purely voluntary social activity sponsored by the employer. But establishing whether a social activity is “voluntary” may not always be clear-cut. If an employee feels any pressure or coercion from her supervisors to attend an event, a workers’ compensation official may decide a subsequent injury is compensable.
An Attorney Can Help Obtain Workers’ Compensation for Injury Outside Work Premises
Workers’ compensation rules are often bewildering to employees who have never head to deal with the system before. That is why if you have been injured in a workplace or work-related accident, it is important to speak with an experienced Orlando workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as possible.