One of the most contested, and sometimes confusing, questions about workers’ compensation is when an injury is actually considered a “workplace injury.” As a matter of law in California, all employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, which is supposed injured workers recover lost wages and other benefits to make ends meet while they are unable to work.
Indeed, an injury is supposed to be linked to a workplace activity (i.e. an ailment that occurs while in the course of one’s employment). But what happens when the injury occurs during an instance of horseplay? Better yet, can injuries sustained while getting out of the car during a business trip or on the way to the airport make the worker eligible work comp benefits?
Generally speaking, if the activity is required by the employer, injuries stemming from that activity may be compensable under the state workers’ compensation code. However, there are cases where a person injured while getting out of a car to get snacks or relieve themselves at gas stations have not been compensated. At the same time, when air travel is required and it is necessary to drive to the airport, courts have held that car accident injuries can be compensated.
As for horseplay related injuries, employees run the risk of not having workers’ comp benefit if they were knowingly disregarding workplace safety rules. Nevertheless, every case is different, and it is worth consulting with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to fully understand your rights and options. This way you will have a reasonable expectation as to whether your claim will be accepted or rejected.