What is Considered an On-the-Job Injury?
Workers’ compensation is an insurance program that most employers need to purchase to cover their employees. When there is an on-the-job injury, workers’ compensation benefits will pay for all necessary medical costs. An on-the-job injury that is severe enough to make the worker miss days or weeks of pay can also cause workers’ comp to provide wage replacement benefits.
While the purpose of workers’ compensation seems straightforward, there is one question that many workers ask themselves: “What does on-the-job injury really mean?” To put it briefly, an on-the-job injury is one that a worker suffers while on-the-clock or while performing a work-related duty. It is worth going into these concepts with further detail, though.
For workers who need to clock in and out for each shift, they should be covered by workers’ compensation the moment they clock in. While they are earning their hourly wages, workers should be given workers’ comp insurance coverage for the vast majority of accidents and injuries that occur. Even if an on-the-clock accident happens because of the worker’s own mistakes, they should still be covered. There might be a gap in coverage when the worker clocks out for lunch, though. Coverage typically ends when they clock out, too.
Many workers are salaried and do not need to use a timeclock or similar system to begin and end their shifts. In some contexts, they might be considered “on-the-clock” during the typical or expected hours of work. For example, if you work in an office that expects everyone to be in their cubicles from 9-to-5 but you are not paid hourly wages, then you are probably “on-the-clock” during those hours, and, therefore, have workers’ compensation coverage.
Without being on-the-clock, you can still be covered by workers’ compensation insurance policies as long as you are performing a work-related duty or task. This concept of a task that is ‘work-related’ is deliberately vague, so that all sorts of activities apply. Essentially, if you are doing something because you are instructed or required to do it for your job, even if you are off-the-clock or it is outside of your normal work duties, then you should be covered by workers’ compensation benefits.
For example, imagine that your boss instructed you to go across town to pick up food for the company party that afternoon. Retrieving items outside of the office is normally something the executive assistant handles, but they are not in for the day. You comply with your boss, get in your car, and start to drive to the catering restaurant. But while you are en route, you get hit by a drunk driver. You should still be covered by workers’ comp because you were completing a task that was related to your employment, despite it being unusual to your typical duties.
Some workers’ compensation policies will also give an eligible employee coverage for as long as they are inside their place of employment. Your employer is required to provide you a safe working environment free of unreasonable hazards. If they fail to do that and you get hurt because of such a hazard, then premises liability laws would make them liable for your injuries. However, if you are covered by workers’ comp, then you can seek benefits through that no-fault system instead. To this end, many injuries that happen inside the actual workplace can be covered automatically by workers’ compensation insurance.
Do you have questions about workers’ comp coverage that might pertain to an on-the-job injury you recently suffered in Hialeah, Florida? Call (305) 340-2630 to connect with Morales & Cerino, P.A. and our workers’ compensation lawyers. We can work with people from various industries and occupations, including local employers like the Hialeah Park Racing & Casino and the Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport.