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Bah humbug! The office party and workers' compensation claims

Whether it's the holiday season between Thanksgiving and Christmas or a co-worker's birthday in the middle of the summer, a workplace injury accident can dampened the spirits of an office party.

The injury can result from having a few too many libations courtesy of the boss, or falling off of a ladder while hanging a "Happy Birthday" banner over the door. Either one of these, as well as countless other scenarios, can raise the question: "Does this qualify as a workers' compensation claim?

For the many different kinds of scenarios, each may have a different answer depending on the circumstances.

One of the most important questions in workers' compensation cases is when an activity stops being work-related for purposes of being covered by the employer's workers' compensation insurance.

The standard for making the decision is the requirement that the incident that led to the injury happened "within the course and scope of employment."

The office party is a prime example. Do employment hours stop promptly at the end of the scheduled normal work day, when the party begins? What if the party is to entertain an important client and the employee is required to attend? Is that a social event or employment?

Here are some of the questions that are asked by workers' compensation carriers to help answer the employment question:

  • Did the employer endorse the event and could the employer benefit from it?
  • Are employees required or even expected to attend?
  • Are employees paid to attend (i.e., are they "on-the-clock" during the party)?
  • Were clients or vendors invited to the party?

Even these questions may not have clear answers and may be subject to interpretation.

If you were injured at a party thrown by your employer in California, do not try to answer these questions yourself. Contact an attorney who understands the gray areas of workers' compensation liability to help you understand your options.

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Law Offices of William W. Green & Associates
505 S. Villa Real
Anaheim, CA 92807

Phone: 714-464-6903
Toll Free: 866-543-7598
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