Workers’ compensation covers injuries suffered within the scope and course of employment. In other words, workplace injuries are covered if an injured employee was performing a task for the benefit of their employee. Even if you cause your own injuries, you are still eligible to obtain workers’ comp benefits. However, there are some types of injuries which are not covered.
The following are four types of injuries that aren’t covered by workers’ compensation:
- When an employee commutes to and from work – If you are injured during your morning commute to your fixed worksite or during your evening commute home from work, you are not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. By contrast, if you don’t have a fixed worksite, you drive a company vehicle, or you’re performing tasks for the benefit of your employer during your commute when an accident occurs, your injury might be covered.
- When an employee takes a break or lunch outside of the workplace – If you leave your job site for break or lunch and sustain an injury during this time period, the injury is not covered by workers’ compensation protection—even if you were on the clock. However, if you left the workplace to pick up food for a meeting when the injury occurs, you are eligible for workers’ comp benefits. Injuries suffered while in the breakroom or cafeteria are covered as well.
- When an employee fights or jokes around – Since horseplay and jokes are not part of the scope of employment, injuries caused by messing around at work are not covered by workers’ compensation. But if an employer permits such ongoing behavior, you may still be eligible for benefits. Most injuries derived from fights and violence in the workplace are not covered, unless the altercation involved a specific work issue.
- When an employee is impaired on the job – If being under the influence of alcohol or drugs contributed to a workplace injury, the injury will not be covered by workers’ compensation. On the other hand, if there is evidence that there was no way to avoid the accident and someone else caused the injury, it is possible to still be eligible for benefits.
- When you attend an off-site work event – From team building outings to holiday parties, social events outside the workplace are not often eligible for workers’ comp benefits. However, if you were required to attend or your employer benefited from your attendance, any injury you suffer will be covered.