If you are injured at a work party, you might not be eligible for workers’ compensation. Take, for instance, the following case. A North Carolina court affirmed the decision to deny a woman’s workers’ comp claim after she was injured at her annual holiday work party in 2013.
The woman, Melissa Lennon, suffered a fall while at her annual holiday work party. She sustained serious injuries including fractured bones and muscle tears. She filed a claim to cover her missed time from work and permanent partial disability. You might think that she has a fairly good case, seeing as she was injured while attending a work function.
However, the court decided that she was not eligible for these benefits. One of their biggest reasons was that, as far as they could tell, she was not required to attend the function — many of her coworkers didn’t attend the function at all. What’s more, the party was not funded by her employer, rather by some of the employees.
In this case, the ruling was not in Ms. Lennon’s favor; however, that’s not to say that there aren’t some circumstances in which an injury at a work party might be covered by workers’ compensation. If you were injured at a mandatory event, or if the event was sponsored by your company, it’s possible your claim won’t be denied.
Injuries at Work Parties Aren't Always Workers' Comp Claims
Workers' compensation is designed to protect people who are hurt on the job. However, when someone gets hurt at a work party, it can be hard to know whether he or she should file a claim with the state. Here are some things to consider:
- Is the party mandatory?
A lot of parties are held during the holiday season, but only certain ones are mandatory.
When someone gets hurt at a work party, it’s important to understand what kind of party it was. Some events are mandatory, meaning everyone must attend. Others are optional, meaning attendance isn’t required.
- Who paid for the party?
Some companies pay for their own holiday parties, while others rely on employee contributions. It’s important to note that even if the employer pays for the party, it doesn’t mean that the worker will automatically receive workers’ compensation benefits. The reason being that the party wasn’t “required” by the employer.
- Did the person get injured while working?
Some people go to work-related functions just to socialize, but others do so because they need to perform a specific task. For example, a janitor may be cleaning up trash at a party, but he or she wouldn’t necessarily be performing a janitorial service.
- How did the person get hurt?
Sometimes, people get hurt at a work party because they’re participating in a dangerous activity. For example, a construction worker might be using a ladder to hang decorations, but he or she would probably not be doing so if the ladder broke.
- Were other people hurt?
Sometimes, people get hurt at work parties because they’re trying to help another person. For example, a coworker might trip over a chair while helping his or her friend move furniture.
- Does the person have a preexisting condition?
It’s important to keep in mind that injuries at work parties are different than those sustained at work. If someone has a preexisting medical condition, such as diabetes, then he or she might not be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if he or she got hurt at a work party.
- Are there any legal issues involved?
It’s also important to remember that sometimes, people get hurt at parties because they’ve broken the law. For instance, a drunk driver might run into a tree after leaving a bar.
What happens next?
After considering all these factors, it’s time to decide whether or not to file a workers’ compensation claim. If you think you’re entitled to benefits, talk to a lawyer about your options. This way, you can make sure that you don’t miss out on the benefits that you deserve.