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Are All Injuries Covered by Workers’ Compensation?

Are All Injuries Covered by Workers’ Compensation?

Workers’ compensation is a legally enforced insurance program designed to provide workers with legal rights regarding job-related injuries and illnesses. Since their formation in the 1900s, workers’ compensation laws have evolved over time through changes made by individual states in order to protect laborers. While the majority of injuries that happen on a job are now covered by workers’ compensation, some injuries are not.

Intoxication or Drug Abuse

Most state laws rule that workers who receive injuries as a result of an accident caused by their own intoxication- by drugs or alcohol- are not eligible for workers’ compensation. Unless the employee can prove that there was no way to avoid the injury, regardless of their state, they might be able to receive compensation.

Proving that the employee was intoxicated at the exact time of the accident is often difficult for employers, as any delays in testing can cause discrepancies in the result. In accordance with the advice on, the employee should avoid signing any settlement offer from an insurance company before a seasoned personal injury lawyer looks at it. Many workers are afraid to pursue compensation claims because they failed a drug test and did not know that a professional attorney can still help them earn compensation.

Injured on Lunch Break

In many states, sustaining injuries during lunch break is not covered by the workers’ compensation laws. You can’t claim compensation if you broke your leg on the way to a coffee shop outside, but if the injury was sustained while you were getting food for your boss or doing a task outside the office for them in general, there is a good chance that the injury will be covered under workers’ compensation laws. Some states are more liberal about lunch break injuries, especially if they’re directly related to common occurrences during a break, like contracting an illness from the company’s cafeteria.

Sponsored Events and Traveling

It’s not uncommon for businesses to sponsor events like picnics, hikes, and sporting events, so there is always the potential for an injury. In order to have an injury covered by workers’ compensation at an outdoor or indoor event, the employee must have been invited or required to attend. This also includes, though not in all states, events where an employee’s presence benefits the employer in a way.

The “going and coming rule” states that workers who suffer any injury during their travel to and from work are not allowed to claim benefits. Exceptions to this rule include the commute between shift sites or any other task that requires the worker to commute while on the job. It’s widely argued, though, that the “going and coming rule” is unfair because a commute is job-related and is required since most people have to be at work physically.

Willful Misconduct of Employer

Since the workers’ compensation system is a no-fault system, employers don’t have to worry about being sued for civic liability as a result of injuries in the workplace– even if those injuries are directly resulting from the employer’s negligence or ignorance. Even workplace accidents that claim the lives of employees don’t necessarily merit a civic liability case, unless a few strict constraints are met. This means that if the accident is done on purpose, is beyond negligence and ignorance, or wrongful conduct is at play, then an employee can sue the employer, which then negates the course of worker compensation laws.

The line between workplace injuries that can be compensated under the workers’ law and those that cannot is sometimes blurry, which is why it’s advised that you consult a personal injury attorney when something is in question. Protecting and caring for your employees is an important part of running a business, so be sure you understand their rights and what they are owed in the case of an injury.

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by Brian Perry // Brian Perry is a contributor to Businessing Magazine.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.