Workers’ compensation is a system designed to protect both employees and employers after an employee sustains a work-related injury. The process protects the employee by providing a method for the employee to receive medical treatment and disability benefits. The process also protects employers by preventing an employee from receiving disability benefits and also suing the employer for damages. In order to receive compensation for injuries and disability benefits, an employee must have sustained the injury in the course and scope of employment. Accordingly, when moving forward with a workers’ compensation case, it is important for an employer to understand what “course and scope of employment” means in the context of workers’ compensation.
In its simplest terms, asking whether an employee was acting in the course and scope of employment is asking whether the employee was “working” for the employer at the time the injury occurred. One of the easiest ways to figure this out is to ask whether at the time the injury occurred, was the employee doing something to benefit the employer. For example, if an employee takes a break and drives to the post office to mail a personal letter, and is injured in a car accident on the way back to work, this would not be in the course and scope of employment. However, if while at the post office, the employee also takes the time to mail several packages on behalf of the employer, then any injury sustained in the accident may very well be covered by workers’ compensation.
Employers should be careful not to always assume that any injury sustained by an employee occurred in the course and scope of employment. This is true even if the employee is injured while on company property. If the employee is not working at the time he or she was injured, then the injury did not occur in the course and scope of the job. This would most often be seen where the employee has come into work on a day when he or she is not working, and is there to socialize or conduct personal business. For example, if you own a grocery store and your employee comes in on his day off to buy groceries, he would not be eligible for workers’ compensation if he is injured at that time. In other words, for an employee to recover under workers’ compensation, he needs to be performing something work-related at the time.
We have extensive experience helping our clients understand the requirements of a workers’ compensation claim. Call us today to talk about your case and your business.