Am I Eligible for Workers’ Compensation if I Have Not Clocked in Yet?
The majority of employers in most states including New Jersey must carry an appropriate level of Workers’ Compensation insurance. When a worker is injured while doing a job on behalf of an employer, this special type of insurance pays for all related medical treatment costs, a portion of the worker’s lost wages, and disability benefits when appropriate.
When you picture a workplace accident that might necessitate the use of Workers’ Compensation, you probably picture something happening in an office, a manufacturing plant, or a busy outdoor construction site. Yet not all Workers’ Compensation claims are for incidents that happen while a worker is engaged in activities inside or at a place of work. Some accidents that are covered by Workers’ Compensation happen elsewhere, including before and after someone officially “clocks in.”
Under what circumstances can you submit for Workers’ Compensation if you are injured? Below are a few common accident scenarios and the answer to that pressing question.
Can You Get Workers’ Compensation if You Are Hurt on Your Daily Commute?
Lots of people commute to and from work. If you use a car, you could get into an accident on your way to your job. However, you cannot file for Workers’ Compensation for this type of injury.
The law views your commute under the so-called portal to portal or coming and going rule. In other words, it is the time when you typically journey from home to employer or vice versa. Therefore, any accidents that happen during this timeframe would not be covered by your employer’s Workers’ Compensation even though you are traveling to and from your job.
Are You Eligible for Workers’ Compensation Walking to or from Your Car to Work?
The portal to portal or coming and going rule does have a few exceptions. One of them is if you get injured while on a property that is owned by your employer, such as a parking lot.
For example, you might park your car, get out of it, and slip and fall on a patch of ice that had not been cleared. As long as the parking lot was supposed to be maintained by your employer, you could file a Workers’ Compensation claim. The same would be true if you had an accident on a sidewalk or green space owned by your employer as long as you were there during the normal course of business.
However, you might be tempted to use your employer’s parking lot as a free space to park over the weekend so you could bring your family downtown. If you tripped and hurt yourself then, your Workers’ Compensation claim would be denied.
What Happens if You Drop by Your Employer Off the Clock and Get Hurt?
Your colleagues are hosting a 65th birthday for the boss in your workplace cafeteria. Even though you are scheduled to be off that week, you decide to come to the office for the big event. During the time you are on the premises, you trip and twist your ankle. Are you eligible for Workers’ Compensation? Maybe and maybe not.
Some employers and insurance providers have fought these types of Workers’ Compensation claims, particularly if you were not told that you had to be onsite. However, if your employer knew you were probably going to show up, you might be able to get a Workers’ Compensation denial reversed. This is where having help from a Workers’ Compensation lawyer can be critical.
Can You Submit for Workers’ Compensation if You Are Running Errands for Work?
A few minutes before you clock out, your supervisor pulls you aside. She asks you to pick up some doughnuts and coffee the next day as a surprise for everyone. After giving you some money, she sends you on your way. The next morning, you switch up your normal commute so you can swing by the nearest bakery and coffee shop. On your way back to work, you get in a nasty car accident and suffer serious injuries.
Although you were technically going to work on your commute, you were actually on a special assignment. Special duties and responsibilities such as being asked to pick up coffee or go to the post office are usually covered by Workers’ Compensation. After all, you would not have been traveling on a different route if you had not been asked to do something out of the ordinary by your employer.
What if I Get Hurt Going to a Client’s Office or a Conference?
Not everyone works in an office. Some people, such as those in sales, regularly travel using their personal car or a company vehicle. Others occasionally travel short or long distances to attend a variety of events from large international conventions to intimate client dinners.
Any time you travel for work, you should be covered under your employer’s Workers’ Compensation. The major exception would be if you did anything criminal that led to your injuries, such as driving while intoxicated. Getting charged and convicted with a DWI will negate your opportunity to receive Workers’ Compensation benefits.
How Can I Make Sure I Get My Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
Though you cannot force your employer or your employer’s insurance carrier to approve your first Workers’ Compensation claim, you can do a few things to make it easier to prove your case. The first is to get medical treatment right away. Doing this helps you prove a link between the accident and your injury.
Secondly, keep all documentation including hospital invoices, receipts for payment, and insurance paperwork. These documents will provide supporting evidence and can be used to help you get reimbursed sufficiently.
Finally, keep attending all medical appointments. You may consider stopping care because it is getting expensive. Nevertheless, it is in your best interest to continue. Otherwise, a Workers’ Compensation insurance provider or your employer may argue that you are healthy when you have not yet healed.
If you think your Workers’ Compensation claim may be an uphill battle, consider getting in touch with a Workers’ Compensation lawyer sooner rather than later. An initial consultation does not oblige you to hire an attorney. It just gives you some insight into your rights and potential legal standing.
Piscataway Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr Fight for Benefits to Cover Unusual Workplace Accidents
If you are having trouble receiving Workers’ Compensation benefits for injuries that happened “off the clock,” reach out to the Piscataway Workers’ Compensation lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr. Our legal team will protect your rights and fight to obtain the compensation for which you are entitled. Call us today at 877-249-4600 or 732-537-8570 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Highland Park, New Jersey, we serve clients in New Brunswick, Somerset, Piscataway, Edison, South River, Sayreville, Metuchen, East Brunswick, South Plainfield, Fords, Middlesex, Old Bridge, Iselin, Bound Brook, Perth Amboy, Colonia, Elizabeth, and Newark.