Nobody expects to take a fall, but you probably assume that if you fall at work you are automatically eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Don’t be so sure. Whether or not your injuries will be covered under workers’ compensation depends a lot on the circumstances of your fall. This is what you should know.

It’s The Specifics That Count

Two very similar accidents, with similar injuries, can end up with totally different results for their workers’ compensation claims, simply because the specific circumstances are a little different.

For example, if you clock out of work, but slip and fall because you’re carrying paper recycling to the outside recycling bin on your way to your car, you should be covered under workers’ compensation.

However, if you slip and fall at work while you’re still on the clock, but you were carrying a stack of library books you want to return out to your car, it may be difficult to get workers’ compensation, even if you fell on the employer’s property.

You should note that what you were doing is more important than when you were doing it. Whether you were officially “on the clock” isn’t quite as important as whether or not the activity was “work related.”

What Counts As “Work Related”

There are a number of circumstances where it can be difficult to determine if your injury is considered “work related” or not, and even in situations where you think the answer is obvious you can run into a problem if your employer sees things differently. 

For example:

1.) Lunch Breaks

Generally speaking, you aren’t covered during your lunch break by workers’ compensation, unless some aspect of where you were or what you were doing provided a benefit to your employer. 

For example, your injuries from falling while at lunch could be covered if:

  • you were in a company cafeteria (which usually benefits your employer by making it quicker for you to get in and out of lunch).
  • you were picking up food for an in-office party, meeting, or other event.
  • you were running an errand for your boss and picking up his lunch (even if you were picking up your own as well).
  • you were at a company meeting over a meal.

2. Company Parties And Events

It’s not unusual for companies to sponsor an occasional party or picnic – and if you happen to fall at one of these events, your injuries should be covered by workers’ compensation.

The same is true if you happen to be traveling to and from a work event and it’s not at your regular work site. However, if you slip and fall on the way into a building that’s owned by a different company, you may have trouble determining which business – your employer or the other company – is going to be responsible for paying for your care and injuries.

Unfortunately, employers don’t always make the connection between the job and the accident you suffered, or don’t agree that the situation arose from a work related activity. If you believe that your slip and fall accident should be covered under workers’ compensation and your employer believes otherwise, you should consult with a lawyer (such as one from Malone & Atchison) right away to protect your rights.