In our prior blogs, we have talked a lot about the phrase “course and scope of employment” and how that standard is used to determine what is and is not considered to be a work injury. Most people are unaware and equally surprised to learn that under the right circumstances, an injury sustained while playing on your office’s softball team or in your office gym can be considered a work injury.
Right off the bat (pun intended) let’s clarify that just because you are on a softball team with two guys from work, does not mean that any injury you sustain is work-related. When evaluating whether a “recreational” type injury is work-related, the key factor is your employer’s endorsement or sponsorship of the activity. While your injury on your rec-league team with two co-workers is not work-related, if your office sponsors your team by providing jerseys or league dues, your injury may be compensable.
In recent years employers have encouraged their employees to be more active in an effort to reduce insurance premiums. If your employer has a gym on its premises that is under its control that you are encouraged to use, your injury may entitle you to workers’ compensation benefits. Further, if your current employer requires you to pass a physical fitness test, an injury sustained while training for that test may be compensable.
Another situation is a charity event sponsored by your employer such as a golf tournament or a volleyball tournament. In this circumstance, the event would need to be sponsored by your employer and there would likely need to be some kind of encouragement to participate. By itself, encouragement to participate in a non-employer sponsored event (such as running a marathon for charity with a contribution from your employer) would most likely not meet the course and scope requirement necessary to obtain benefits.
The final category of a recreational type activity that may be work-related is a company picnic or team building activity. Injuries sustained at company picnics have been found compensable. With that said, an important factor for this category of cases is whether the picnic or team building exercise was required. If going on the annual retreat is required for your job, then an injury would likely be compensable. On the other hand, the court found an injury sustained while commuting to the company picnic was not compensable because the claimant had the option to work a full day instead or take the day off without pay.
If you believe you have suffered a work injury and have questions about whether you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, please call Pearson Koutcher Law right away. One of our workers’ compensation attorneys would be happy to answer any questions you may have.
Let us put our decades of experience to work for you, helping you navigate the complexities of the Workers’ Compensation laws.