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How to Tell If an “Off the Clock” Injury Qualifies for Workers’ Compensation

Your back has been hurting for weeks, so it was not surprising when you finally couldn’t get out of bed. You’d been treating it with over-the-counter painkillers and trying to get more rest—but since you have to go to work, staying off your feet wasn’t really an option. You’re trying to get workers’ comp to pay for your medical bills while you’re off work, but how can you prove that your back injury is work-related when you didn’t have an accident at work?

Many Injuries That Occur Outside of Work Qualify for Workers’ Comp

Many worker’s compensation cases are denied based on the fact that the victim was not on company property when the injury occurred. However, there have been numerous legal battles that have been fought--and won--based on the fact that the employer was still responsible for an injury that happened outside of the workplace. Here are just a few examples of injuries outside the workplace that may be paid for through worker’s comp:

  • Work-related errands or tasks. Just because you are hurt outside of your usual office building does not mean you cannot get workers’ compensation. If you were injured while performing work-related tasks—such as driving to meet with a client or struck while crossing the street to get change for your cash register—your employer is still liable for your injury costs.
  • Cumulative injuries. Many workers do not suffer a single incident that causes them injury, but are disabled by daily stress or exposure in the workplace. Conditions can range from cancer and lung diseases from smoke inhalation, to carpal tunnel syndrome and disc degeneration due to repetitive stress. If you work at a clothing store where you regularly bend, stoop, and lift heavy boxes, you are likely experiencing cumulative trauma to your back that may one day lead to partial or even total disability.
  • Mental disorders. It’s not just your body that can be injured at work. If you witness a disturbing event, experience a fire or other disaster, or suffer from extreme stress in your workplace, you may be able to get workers’ compensation for a mental health condition. You should speak with your doctor if you are having trouble sleeping or experiencing any other disturbances as a result of something that happened at work, as you could be suffering from a psychiatric injury.

As these injuries do not occur on company property, it may be more difficult to prove that your workplace was the cause of your suffering. If you are having difficulty with a workers’ compensation claim,  click the contact link on this page to ask us a question about your case, or get more information in our FREE book, What the Injured Worker Needs to Know: Your Workers’ Comp Guide.


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