It's not uncommon for people to face workplace injuries, but what happens when an injury occurs outside your regular work hours? Are you still eligible to receive compensation? Understanding the legalities surrounding these types of injuries can help you determine what your rights are. Let's take a closer look at the facts.
What is an Off-the-Clock Injury?
An off-the-clock injury is a type of injury that occurs outside of your regularly scheduled work hours or away from your usual place of employment. These types of injuries may include those sustained on breaks, before or after hours, and even during commute time. Depending on the circumstances, these injuries may or may not be covered under workers' compensation laws.
The Going-and-Coming Rule
Under New York workers' compensation law, a general principle is followed called the "going-and-coming" rule. In it, workers commuting to and from work are deemed not to be operating in the scope of their employment, thus, are ineligible to receive workers' compensation benefits for any injury resulting from their commute. There are, however, certain exceptions.
Injured on the Premises
If an employee has not yet clocked in or after they have clocked out and is injured on the premises of their workplace, they may still be eligible for workers' compensation benefits. This can include injuries sustained while walking through the parking lot or on the sidewalks around the office. For example, if you park in your company parking lot and slip and fall on the icy concrete as you walk in, you may be left with a compensable workplace injury.
Running Errands for Employer
In some cases, employees may be required to run errands or do other tasks that benefit their employer outside of regular work hours (before getting to work, after work, or perhaps on a break). If an employee is injured while running such an errand, they may be eligible to receive workers' compensation benefits. This is because while they are still technically off-the-clock, they are performing a task for their employer and for their employer's benefit. It would, however, need to be established that the task was work-related.
Attending Work-Related Event
Similarly, suppose an employee is attending a work-related event outside of their regular working hours (such as an office party, seminar, or other gatherings). In that case, they may be provided with workers' compensation benefits in the event that an injury occurs. This holds true for injuries sustained during business trips as well.
Home is Considered an Additional Worksite
While commuting to and from work is usually not recognized as a work-related activity, in some cases, the employee's home may be considered an additional worksite. In these circumstances, an employee may be leaving the office to continue working at their home. In the event of an accident, as the employee is returning home, they may be eligible for workers' compensation benefits.
Protecting the Rights of Injured New York Workers
It's important to note that each case must be evaluated on its own merits, and the ultimate decision lies with the Workers' Compensation Board of New York. To learn more about off-the-clock injuries and how you can protect yourself, contact Schotter Millican, LLP for more information.
If you were injured in a workplace accident, call us today at (718) 550-0610 or fill out our form online.