AN EMPLOYEE MAY BE PROTECTED UNDER STATE WORKERS COMPENSATION LAWS WHEN INJURED OUTSIDE OF THE WORKPLACE

When an employee is injured at work, there are Workers’ Compensation Laws in place to protect his/her rights but sometimes disputes arise over coverage. Connecticut has a Workers’ Compensation Commission that administers the state’s Workers’ Compensation laws. The Compensation Review Board adjudicates disputes and renders final decisions. Recent decisions from the Compensation Review Board, make it clear that an employee can be eligible for Workers’ Compensation benefits even if the injury occurs outside of the employer’s premises.  This can include a fall on a public street, alleyway, or sidewalk while walking from a parking garage to work or from work to a parking garage under certain circumstances.

Why is this important?  It is important because worker’s compensation laws can provide medical treatment and lost wages coverage to injured workers regardless of fault for the injury.  The test is whether the activity that led to the injuries can be deemed incidental, in other words, related to whatever an employee must do in order to fulfill the obligations of his/her employment.

In one scenario, an employee was going to her car during a lunch break and the car was in a parking garage that the employer required the employee to use.  The Board concluded the parking garage was an extension of the employers’ premises and the employer had directed the injured worker to use that parking lot.  Based upon this ruling, as long as the activity that takes the employee off of the employer’s premises is authorized by the employer and incidental to employment, the employee is covered and entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits.

This may also apply to the walk into work from such a parking garage at the beginning of the workday as well as the walk from work back to the parking garage after the workday is complete.  This is true regardless of why the fall took place or who is to blame, including the injured employee.

In another recent case, an employee was driving a company vehicle to the office after performing work-related paperwork at home.  The Board commissioner focused upon whether the employee was injured in the course and scope of his/her employment. The employer had authorized the employee to perform the work at home.  However, the motor vehicle collision was likely caused by the employee’s known sleep apnea.  Despite the sleep apnea condition, the injury was covered under Workers’ Compensation laws.  Since the employee was providing a service for the employer when the motor vehicle collision occurred, and the employee was being paid for those services, the injuries were compensable. The Board concluded that it was reasonable to determine the sleep apnea would not have led to the injuries if he had not been operating the company vehicle at that time.

These decisions highlight just a few of the ways an injured employee can be covered under Workers’ Compensation laws when injured offsite.  There are many factors that affect the ultimate finding of coverage and employers may deny coverage at the outset.  The injured employee is strongly encouraged to seek legal counsel to protect his or her rights.

If you have any questions about an injury relating to your employment, we are here to help. Contact one of our experienced Workers’ Compensation attorneys at Rome Clifford Katz & Koerner, LLP: (860) 527-7044.