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Eligibility Requirements: Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Can I Receive Workers’ Compensation Benefits Even if I Wasn’t at My Workplace When I Was Injured?

There are, of course, eligibility requirements when it comes to work-related injuries and workers’ compensation.

Construction worker has an accident while working on new house
Construction worker has an accident while working on new house

Two requirements state that the employer must be covered by workers’ compensation, and that you must be an actual employee to the workplace. A third requirement states: The injury or illness must be work-related. This means that, if you were doing something for the benefit of your employer and were injured, then the injury is known as work-related in nature. This is not always easily identifiable. Perhaps, in one situation, you were injured while on break but doing something for your boss.

In this type of case, the injury didn’t necessarily happen at work, but it had some type of connection to it (DelPo). Where do you turn?

“Within the Scope of Employment”

“Within the scope of employment” refers to you being on the job or on the clock when your injury occurs. If you are within that scope, then you will probably be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.

If you’re making a claim, you will want to ask yourself – how do I define the beginning and end of my workday? Questions of liability may occur when injuries happen during a work commute, in parking lots, of at activities.

Many states follow the same rule, which is known as “while in the course of employment.” This rule basically states that it doesn’t matter where the employee’s physical location is, or the time of day for that matter.

As long as work duties were being performed when the injury happened, then the injury will be seen as a workplace accident and probably covered by workers’ compensation benefits.

U.S. Department of Labor’s “Portal to Portal” Rule

The “Portal to portal” rule means that workers’ compensation coverage won’t begin until the employee arrives to the workplace. It also implies that the coverage ends when the employee leaves at the end of the workday.

There are exceptions to this:

  • Benefit to the Employer: A worker could be covered if they are injured when commuting to work, or just performing duties in general that directly benefit the employer. An example of this could be a car accident that happens after a client dinner. However, workers’ compensation doesn’t extend to workers who are injured while committing a crime, so a worker who obtains a DUI would be committing a crime and therefore relinquish their right to benefits.
  • Special Missions: If a worker is sent on a special mission by his or her employer and is injured during this work task commute, then there may be a liability issue. This could include an example of a slip and fall while running an errand.
  • Sidewalks and Parking Lots: An area that is controlled by (or the property owning in some way) an employer is considered to be an extension of the worker’s actual workplace. This includes sidewalks, grassy areas, parking lots, and other places that an employee walks on that are on the way to the workplace.
  • Outside Regular Business Hours: If you are performing a duty outside of business hours and become injured while performing that duty, workers’ compensation will sometimes cover you. An example would be a car crash while speaking with a patient on the phone.
  • After-Hours Visits to Workplace: In many cases, a worker will not be covered if they are injured on work premises even if they aren’t scheduled to be working. However, there is an exception to this. If the employer is aware that the unscheduled worker came to visit other coworkers and didn’t object to this, workers’ compensation may come into play (Calisi).

A lot of the time, you’ll need to have an outstanding backup defense to a workers’ compensation case. This is due to the fact that many legitimate claims will end up being denied for various reasons.

If your work injury is denied, and you have a real claim, then you will want to seek the help of an experienced attorney who understands worker’s laws. Call RAWA Law Group today for a free consultation to see where you stand.

Works Cited

Amy DelPo. Nolo, 2015. Web. Accessed October 22, 2015. https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/are-you-eligible-workers-compensation-32963.html

Judge Anthony P. Calisi. Injury Claim Coach, 2015. Web. Accessed October 22, 2015. https://www.injuryclaimcoach.com/work-place-accidents.html

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