An illness or injury that is sustained while completing work for the employer’s benefit and during the course of employment is considered a work-related illness or injury. Any work-related illness or injury is covered by workers’ compensation, even if it is not sustained at the workplace. For example, if an injury is sustained during a company event or social function in which the employer expects employees to participate, this may be considered work-related.
In addition to isolated incidents or accidents, long-term problems and illnesses may also be covered by workers’ compensation. These include:
- Developing cumulative injuries over time, such as chronic back problems or repetitive strain or stress injuries
- Occupation-related diseases or illnesses following exposure on the job, such as lung disease or heart conditions
- Physical or psychological illnesses culminating from work-related stress
- Aggravating a pre-existing condition
Keep in mind that rules vary by state, and it may be difficult to prove such illness or injury was strictly work-related, especially in incidents of infectious disease transmission.
Injuries sustained while commuting to and from work are usually not covered unless you are driving a company vehicle, required to use your own car for business use, completing work-related errands, traveling for a business trip, or an employee regularly traveling for work or not having a fixed worksite. Injuries occurring during a lunch break are usually not considered work-related unless they happen on the company’s premises or while you were picking up lunch for your employer.
Even if you were breaking workplace safety regulations, your injury may still be covered. Rule-breaking behavior can be considered work-related if it is a commonly occurring or accepted aspect of the working environment or if the employer was aware of and condoned this behavior. However, several states will deny workers compensation if the employee is under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs, attempting to hurt themselves or someone else, or violating company policy, or involved in the commission of a serious crime.
If you believe you may be entitled to workers’ compensation and would like to discuss your options, please contact our office. Our attorneys have over 40 years of experience fighting for people just like you!