Test Your Workers' Comp Knowledge - American Society of Employers - Anonym

Test Your Workers’ Comp Knowledge

Questions about work-related travel and subsequent injuries as they relate to Workers' Compensation law frequently come up. Specifically, employers often want to know whether an employee who injuries himself or herself while travelling to or from work qualifies for a Workers' Compensation claim.  While many grey areas continue to exist, some are not as grey as many HR professionals think.  Consider the following:

Scenario #1:

An employee is travelling from her residence to her place of work.  While in transit, the employee has a car accident. 

In this scenario, the law is clear in that in order for a Workers' Compensation claim to be made, the injury has to be work-related.  In order for the injury to be work-related, it must flow as a natural consequence of the employee’s work duties.  Further, it must be established that there was a connection between the activity that caused the injury and activities that are required of the employee’s job, or what is often referred to as “within the scope of employment.”  Merely travelling home from work, or vice-versa, does not constitute an activity that is within the scope of employment. Therefore, this employee would not be covered under Workers' Compensation.

Scenario #2:

An employee responsible for transporting goods to several businesses has a car accident while transporting such goods.

As for this scenario, the employee’s principle duties include driving a company-provided vehicle and transporting goods and materials for much of the day.  Therefore, the employee’s activities are considered to be sufficiently work-related and within the scope of employment; also, the employer provided transportation to and from the different locations, making it possible for the employee to carry out his duties.  This employee’s injuries would be covered under Workers' Compensation law.

Scenario #3:

An employee is responsible for travelling among several worksites, and the employee performs her essential duties at each of the worksites.  On her way to one of the worksite locations, she slips and falls.

In this final scenario, the employee is responsible for working at several sites throughout the day.  While there is no company vehicle involved, there is a reasonable connection between the activity of getting from worksite A to worksite B to worksite C, etc., and the activities required by the employee’s job, which is the ability to travel between worksites.  Therefore, the injury would be covered by the employer’s Workers' Compensation plan. 

Another complex Worker’s compensation issue centers around employers asking job candidates about a prior Workers' Compensation claim or occupational injury.

Generally, employers should stay away from this issue during the recruiting and selection process.  However, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the employer may make inquiries about prior Workers' Compensation claims or injuries if the inquiry is made post-offer but before employment begins. The key here is that if you ask the question of one candidate, you must ask the question of all candidates being considered for the same position.  The same is true when an employer requires a medical examination of an applicant to obtain information about prior occupational injuries. 

There are a myriad of different issues that apply to Workers' Compensation law. And, since Workers' Compensation law varies from state to state, employers doing business in multiple states must know the variations of the law in each of those states.

Source:  EEOC and The Bureau of National Affairs

ASE’s Learning & Advancement group provides training classes on Workers' Compensation law. Go to ASE’s website or call 248-223-8041 to register for one of these classes. Call ASE’s Research group at 248-223-8021 with any questions you may have about Workers' Comp.

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