As if the laws surrounding work accidents weren’t already confusing enough for everyone but workman’s comp lawyers, here’s an interesting thing to consider: What happens if you’re injured while working, but you’re not “at work”?
We don’t know about you, but at our office, we can hardly remember what it’s like to work “9 to 5.” It seems like there are fewer of us than ever, and we’re doing more work than ever. It’s certainly not unheard of these days for employees in all kinds of jobs to do some of their work both outside of their permanent workplace and/or outside of regular working hours. Especially now that mobile computing and wireless internet connections are so common, it’s easy for professionals to work at home, at the local coffee shop, or even at Krystal — anywhere there’s a internet connection!
Imagine a situation with us. Let’s say you’re an accountant for a workman’s comp lawyer in Chattanooga. At the close of your business day, one day before payday, you are unable to reconcile the law firm’s primary account. You’re quite puzzled by the anomaly and wish to solve it quickly since everyone at the office expects a paycheck the next day. So, you pack up some files and your laptop computer and head home to work on the issue some more.
Not long after you get there, your boss calls. He was looking into another accounting issue and noticed the same discrepancy that you did. Since you have the accounting records with you, the two of you agree to meet for dinner and work on the problem together. You pack up your laptop again and head over to Heiney’s for fish-n-chips. While you are there, eating and working, you knock your coke onto the floor and, in a rush to retrieve it, you slip and break your arm.
Can you claim this injury on your employer’s workman’s comp insurance?
Every situation is different, of course, but let’s ask a few questions, from your employer’s perspective, based on Tennessee law. If your employer can answer the following questions affirmatively, you should expect to foot the ER bill.
- Did you break your arm because of your willful misconduct?
- Did you do it intentionally?
- Did it occur while you were intoxicated?
- Did you fail to use a safety device which would have prevented your injury?
- Were you hurt because you “failed to perform a duty required by law?”
Now, even though it was after business hours, and not in the office, you were working. There’s no question about that. And you wouldn’t have been at Heiney’s if your boss hadn’t wanted in on troubleshooting the account. If you and your employer can answer the following questions in the affirmative, you likely have a workman’s comp claim to file.
- Were you participating in an activity required by your employer?
- Was this activity happening for the direct benefit of your employer?
- Were you doing regular work-related duties?
Sounds like you broke your arm while you were, essentially, “at work.” The burden of proof to disprove your claim is all on your employer and employer’s workman’s comp insurer. But we all know insurance adjusters have been in the business long enough to know how to find loopholes, or easily talk claimants into dropping a claim. In that case, regardless of the law, the burden of proof to prove your claim will be all on you.
If you’ve suffered an injury at work — at work or while working offsite — make sure you have workman’s comp lawyers review your claim. Emergency medical care is expensive, and if your injury keeps you off the job for any length of time, you’re going to need worker’s compensation pay to get by. Don’t risk losing it all. If your live or work in the Chattanooga area, contact the McMahan Law Firm about your case.