Does Work Comp Cover Injuries Sustained at a Holiday Work Party?

Many companies host holiday parties for their employees during this time of year.  Whether the party is held at an outdoor skating rink or at an upscale hotel conference room, employees are susceptible to injury.  It is important to understand your workers’ compensation rights if you are injured at a work-related holiday event.

Am I Covered?

Workers’ compensation is viewed as a no-fault system, meaning that unless you intentionally cause harm to yourself, you will likely be covered at work or at a work-related event.

The general question for workers’ compensation claims is whether the employee was injured “within the course and scope of employment.”  Factors that may substantiate an employee’s claim include:

  • The employer expects or requires the employee to attend the event.
  • Employees are paid to participate in the event.
  • The incident took place on employer property, or on property for which the employer failed to take necessary safety precautions.
  • The employer benefits from the event.

Workers’ compensation claims stemming from a work-related party are often more complicated than claims that are a direct result of on-the-job activities, so it’s important to contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney if you are injured at a work party.

Steps to Avoid Work Party Injuries

Below are some steps that both employee and employer can take to make holiday work parties safer for all involved.

  • Have the party during the day – People are less likely to drink heavily if the party is held during the day or as part of an extended lunch.
  • Limit alcohol consumption – Consider handing our drink tokens or limiting yourself to one or two drinks.
  • Hold yourself to appropriate workplace conduct at your work party – Although the atmosphere will be more lighthearted and relaxed, remember you’re still at a WORK party.  If you wouldn’t jump up on a table at work, don’t do it at the work party.
  • Plan ahead – Whether you plan ahead by arranging a designated driver or by calling a cab, make sure you and other employees get home safely.
  • Avoid dangerous activities – This may sound obvious, but avoid dangerous tasks like lighting fireworks or popping champagne bottles in a crowded area.

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