When a worker is injured on the job, they are entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits. However, these legal lines often blur when the employee sustains their injury off duty. When an injury occurs during lunch or a break, the employee may wonder whether they are entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits. The answer to this question depends on the case and a few other variables, like the location of the injury, what interest the task served, and the worker’s job description. Ultimately, this determines what injury is compensable or not.
What is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ Compensation is an insurance that helps cover the costs of a work-related injury. The benefits one receives from Workers’ Compensation helps to cover medical bills, treatment, lost wages, disability benefits, and other expenses related to the injury. In return, the employer is generally protected from obtaining a lawsuit from the injured worker.
Fortunately, injured workers do not need to prove that their employer is responsible for their injury. However, they do need to prove that their injury or illness is work-related. Many may define a work day from when they get to the worksite to when they leave. However, it is more complicated than that. An employee may be considered off-the-clock during the work day.
A worker might be considered off duty during lunch or break. This may prevent them from obtaining Workers’ Compensation since the injury is not work-related; however, there is an exception to this rule. If the worker is performing a job for the employer, their break could still be considered work-related. However, if the employee was on a break and did not help the employer, they are likely not entitled to Workers’ Compensation. The interest of the task impacts whether it is compensable. However, this may depend on the victim’s state laws, therefore, they should contact a Workers’ Compensation lawyer to discuss their legal options.
What is Considered a Job-Related Duty?
An injured worker can still obtain Workers’ Compensation for an injury that happened while off-the-clock; however, this is only true if the employee performed job-related duties during the time of the injury. Job-related duties include any action that benefits the employer. It is crucial to look at a few factors, including the location of the injury and what the worker was doing. Both of these factors can help determine whether the employee was still doing job-related duties. Ultimately, this determines whether the injury is compensable or not.
Are Injuries from Car Accidents Compensable?
In general, if a worker obtains an injury while on their commute, it is not considered compensable because of state portal-to-portal laws. These laws state that an individual is not covered by Workers’ Compensation until they get to the worksite. Similarly, their insurance ends when they leave at the end of their shift. This is because their commute is not for the benefit of the employer. However, if the worker’s commute changed because the employer asked them to complete a task, it could be considered work-related. Ultimately, the idea of interest impacts whether or not the injury is considered compensable.
What if My Employer Asked Me to Perform the Task?
Another thing to consider is whether the worker completed several tasks during a break, including some that were personal and others that were job-related. For example, an employer may ask a worker if they can perform a job-related task while on their lunch break. In these situations, the court will determine whether the injury is compensable by looking at the employee’s route. If the route was deviated only slightly for personal interests, the worker is likely still entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits. However, if the employee’s personal tasks were the main tasks at hand when the accident occurred, then the liability falls to the driver. Since the business was personal, an employer is not responsible to pay compensation.
What if I Was Injured on My Employer’s Property?
Employees might also be covered by Workers’ Compensation if they face an injury on an employer’s premises. According to most state laws, a worker’s shift begins when they enter an area controlled by the employer. A controlled area may include property that an employer pays taxes on, owns, or pays mortgage on. Areas might be sidewalks, grassy areas, parking lots, among other places. For example, if an employee suffers an injury on the property after finishing their shift, they are likely still entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits.
Workers who work off an employer premises could also receive benefits. For instance, a delivery driver who was injured in a car accident could receive Workers’ Compensation for their injuries. This is because the accident occurred while the employee was performing job-related duties. However, they may not receive compensation if they stray from their route.
Is Mental Illness Compensable?
A mental illness could impact one’s ability to work. Mental illness affects millions of Americans each year. Symptoms associated with mental illness could lead to lost work time, medical bills, and other losses. However, it may be difficult to prove that a mental illness is work-related. For instance, if a worker had symptoms of mental illness prior to their employment, they may need to prove that their job aggravated their stable condition. In order to prove that a mental illness is related to work, the victim likely needs both psychiatric documentation and a good lawyer that can help advocate for their case.
Highland Park Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr Help Injured Workers Obtain Workers’ Compensation
If you or a loved one has a workplace injury or illness, you should contact one of our Highland Park Workers’ Compensation lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr. Our lawyers help injured workers obtain entitled compensation for their injuries. This can ultimately help alleviate the financial losses associated with injuries, including medical bills and lost wages. If you are interested in exploring your legal options, contact us online or call us at 732-249-4600 for a free consultation. Located in Highland Park, New Jersey, we proudly serve workers throughout New Brunswick, Somerset, Piscataway, Edison, South River, Sayreville, Metuchen, East Brunswick, South Plainfield, Fords, Middlesex, Old Bridge, Iselin, Bound Brook, Perth Amboy, and Colonia.