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What Happens if You Get Injured at a Work Event?

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Workers’ compensation is a valuable program for employees who are injured on the job — but what happens if someone is hurt at a company party?

As a means for employees to gain rapid access to medical and financial assistance when they are injured on the job, workers’ compensation is crucial. Our legal group works regularly with injured workers to ensure they receive the full compensation to which they are entitled.

If you are covered by workers’ comp provided through your employer, you have the right to file a claim any time you are hurt on the job. But the path to those benefits is not as clear if you are injured at an event that takes place outside your normal workplace and hours.

Injuries that take place at work-related events may or may not be eligible for workers’ compensation. Consider the following examples:

  • Employee engagement is important to organizational health. Many employers sponsor summer or winter parties and other purely social events to foster this engagement. While the event is scheduled and sponsored by the employer, attendance is voluntary and not required.
  • Training is a big part of keeping skill-sets up to date. An employer may sponsor and schedule training, workshops, or a retreat outside of the office. Attendance is requested and expected as part of work responsibilities.
  • Your work group plans a recreational outing. Your employer does not sponsor or schedule the event. You help plan the event with the group of people who want to go.

Accidents happen all the time. At any of these occasions, you or a co-worker could sustain injury in any number of ways — in a slip and fall, while playing a game, in an auto crash on the way to an activity, or in some other type of accident. Because these examples all revolve around your life at work, workers’ compensation may seem like a valid source of benefits. However, there are standards to consider when considering filing a workers’ compensation claim.

In an earlier case, the Supreme Court of North Carolina developed a six-question analysis to guide decisions about workers’ compensation payouts for persons injured at a company event:

  1. Did the employer sponsor the event?
  2. Did the employer pay to plan and stage the event?
  3. Was attendance at the event actually voluntary?
  4. What kind of encouragement was given for workers to attend the event? For example, were employees paid to attend, or was attendance recorded? Were employees who chose not to attend required to work? What kind of institutional custom surrounds the event?
  5. Was the party considered by workers to be an employee benefit?
  6. Did the employer gain benefit from the event, such as making presentations, and presenting awards? Or was the overall event staged for the purpose of improving morale and good will?

Only one of the three examples described above (the training event) was employer-required, but you may still be eligible for workers’ comp benefits in North Carolina if you could answer “yes” to any of the questions listed here. On the other hand, if you are injured at an event that you voluntarily attend that cannot clearly be tied to your employer, gaining coverage through workers’ compensation may be difficult. Due to these nuances, it’s always important to consult a knowledgeable attorney if you are injured at a company event.

When you have questions about a personal injury in the workplace or outside of it, the Lanier Law Group, P.A. has answers. We maintain 11 convenient office locations and offer a free consultation to discuss your case. Call us toll free at 855-234-7619 or contact us online today.

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