Everyone knows that workers’ compensation benefits are for people who get injured or sick on the job. But just being at work when you get injured is not enough. In California, you must show that your injury or illness occurred in the course of your employment.
What does this mean? Basically, you must demonstrate a connection between your injury and your work duties. Doing this mostly depends on the nature of your job and the particular circumstances that led to your injury. For example, if you are a construction worker in San Diego and were hurt in a fall from collapsed scaffolding, it should be fairly simple to show that your injury arose out of the course of your employment.
Things outside normal work duties, according to the law
Note that the law imposes certain restrictions on workers’ comp claims. For instance, generally, workers cannot collect workers’ comp for injuries sustained on their commute to or from work, though exceptions exist. Also, injuries resulting from a practical joke gone wrong or horseplay may not be covered, depending on how much the employer typically tolerates that kind of behavior and whether the injured worker was directly involved.
The course of your employment generally refers to the work functions in your job description that you do regularly. But in some cases, such as emergencies or to advance the employer’s interests and benefit a third party, injuries sustained in work functions outside of your normal duties can be covered.
Don’t give up if you have been denied workers’ comp
If you have applied for workers’ compensation but were denied because your injuries were supposedly not in the course of your work duties, you have the right to appeal. A workers’ compensation attorney can go over your claim with you and identify potential ways to make it stronger.