If you are injured while working, you should be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. But, what happens when you are off the clock at the time? While some injuries are clearly “work-related injuries,” if you are hurt in a slip-and-fall in the parking lot, during your lunch break, or while running errands the answer is not so simple.
Every situation is different. Proving you are entitled to work comp benefits when you were at work but not working depends on what you were doing when the accident happened.
Factors that help determine if you were “working”
Although there is no clear-cut answer, there are a number of factors that can weigh on the outcome of your workers’ compensation claim. Questions a work comp lawyer may ask you include:
- Was the activity you were doing when you fell for the benefit of your employer, such as getting office supplies from Target?
- Were you performing a task your supervisor asked you to do, like getting lunch for a work meeting?
- Were you arriving or leaving work and still in the building or the parking lot?
- Were you attending a work-related event, such as the annual holiday party or a company-funded happy hour at a local restaurant or bar?
Typically, the more work-related your off-the-clock activity was, the more likely you are to receive workers’ compensation benefits for your injury or illness.
Your employer must keep your workplace safe
Although you do not “work” in parking lots, lobbies and outdoor smoking areas, they should be free from slipping hazards like water, ice and snow and from items that can trip you up. It is your employer’s responsibility to keep these areas safe for use by employees. For example, if the entrance to your office is icy and you are injured in a slip-and-fall accident, your employer may be responsible.
Do not assume your accident does not qualify for workers’ compensation benefits because you were off the clock. Some injuries are still work-related even though you were not, technically, working at the time.