When Is an Injury Within the Course of Employment?
The workers’ compensation system is designed to provide workers with medical care and monetary compensation for lost wages when they are injured on the job. They may collect regardless of fault, as long as the injury occurred within the course of employment. In most cases, this requirement is fairly straightforward and can easily be proven. However, under certain circumstances the course of employment can actually become an issue of contention for workers seeking compensation.
An injury does not necessarily need to occur on your employer’s premises to be compensable. Conversely, an injury is not automatically compensable just because it occurs on your employer’s premises. Course of employment can be especially difficult to determine for drivers and salespeople who frequently work offsite, but some rules apply under the Florida Workers’ Compensation Law and accompanying interpretive cases:
- Injuries that occur while the employee is acting under the employer’s direction are usually compensable, even if they occur offsite.
- A traveling employee who detours for personal errands beyond those that are customary during the workday may not be covered during that detour. However, reasonable and customary deviations, such as getting coffee or stopping for a meal, may still be covered.
- Injuries stemming from your personal life may not be compensable even if they occur at work. For example, if you are assaulted by a former romantic partner at work, the injury is likely not compensable. However, if your coworker who has no previous relationship with the assailant is also injured in the scuffle, those injuries may be compensable.
- Injuries caused by your own on-the-job horseplay are not compensable, but if such conduct by a coworker injures you even though you were not participating, your injuries may be compensable.
Even these few examples may not hold true under all circumstances. Whether an injury arose in the course of employment is a highly subjective determination. You should always consult an experienced workers’ compensation attorney if your employer denies your claim on the grounds that your injury did not occur during the course of employment.