The modern teleworking revolution has led to many ongoing discussions about the state of our professional lives. One of the most compelling, however, is the increasing awareness of the amount of time our jobs demand outside of our scheduled working hours. Many of us did not fully appreciate how much time we spent commuting to work until the COVID-19 pandemic eliminated many of our commutes entirely. One topic that we at Malloy Law Offices feel has gone under-explored in these discussions is the legal protections (or lack thereof) extended to workers that, while not on the clock, are still engaged in work related activity. Today we’ll be exploring workers comp off the clock.
The short, though not complete, answer is no. You cannot receive workers comp off the clock. Workers comp is only for injuries explicitly defined as “work-related.” It should be acknowledged though that the term “work-related” is fairly ambiguous. You may be surprised to learn just how much leeway it provides. But before we can talk about this leeway, we need to discuss the various legal conventions that exist around injuries incurred adjacent to work that cannot technically be classified as “work-related.”
We’ve previously discussed the “going and coming rule” in a blog post on this site. Let’s briefly summarize it here.
The “Going and Coming Rule” specifies that a worker is not eligible for worker’s compensation payments if he or she is injured while traveling to or from work. Any danger encountered while commuting is the responsibility of the employee. However, there are noteworthy exceptions to this criteria. These exceptions may allow an injured worker to get compensation for injuries sustained while not “at work.” These may include:
A significant worker’s compensation exemption is whether you are on the grounds of your workplace. If you are injured while entering or leaving your workplace before or after a shift, you may be eligible for worker’s compensation. This covers any injuries received in your workplace’s parking lot, provided it is on the same property. This may also fall under premises liability, another topic we’ve covered extensively on this blog. However, it should be remembered that getting worker’s compensation requires the injured worker to forgo the right to sue their employer for their injury. After a workplace injury, consulting with an attorney can help clear up any doubt about the appropriate course of action.
Let’s illustrate a scenario where an injury incurred due to work can’t technically be considered “work-related.”
Say you’ve clocked out to get lunch and are enjoying a leisurely walk down to your neighborhood pizza parlor. After collecting your food, one of the store’s bike couriers collides with you on the sidewalk and breaks your collarbone. Unfortunately, this injury can’t be called “work-related.” You were off the clock and out of the workplace.
However, let’s recalibrate the situation slightly to consider one of those exceptions we just mentioned. Same lunch break, same pizza parlor, same imminent bike accident, but let’s say your supervisor asks you to pick up a lunch special for them. In this case, your injury would have been incurred whilst running an errand for work, giving you a much stronger case for receiving worker’s comp benefits.
The fine margins separating “work related” from “non-work related” injuries may be frustrating to the layperson. But we hope that this blog post illustrates how you may have more options than you realize if you’re seeking off the clock worker’s comp. If you’ve been injured due to work, but not while performing your duties, you owe it to yourself to explore all your options for recovery. Malloy Law Offices is proud to advocate for the rights of injured workers. We offer free consultations to evaluate your unique circumstances and plot a path to maximum compensation. Don’t face the aftermath of your injury alone. Contact Malloy Law today and let us fight for you.