Workers’ Compensation & SSDI

Injury While in the Course of Employment

Workers’ Compensation Eligibility

It is a threshold matter that for an employee to be eligible to recover workers’ compensation benefits, the injury must “arise out of and in the course of employment.” While the exact interpretation of this condition varies from state to state, such a causal connection mandate generally requires that the employee be subjected to injury by his employment. Basically, an injury will be compensable if the employer directed or required the employee’s action that resulted in injury to the employee.

Source of Harm

The source of harm usually determines the outcome as far as compliance with the “course of employment” requirement. For those perils solely connected to the employment, compensability is generally unquestioned. Likewise, perils solely attributed to an employee’s personal endeavor having no connection to the employer or the work that the employee performs, generally preclude compensability for a resulting injury.

When an injury results from both sources of harm (employment and personal), an employee will most likely still be able to recover workers’ compensation benefits. The cause of the injury does not have to be the sole result of the employment; the fact that it is a contributing cause is enough. Who bears the burden of the loss when the harm that befalls the employee is neither employment-related nor personal in nature varies by jurisdiction. Under one theory, the employer is called upon to bear the burden because it has at least a tangential connection to the harm if such harm occurs on the employer’s premises. Another theory places the burden on the employee because it is the employee who must establish a causal connection between the injury and the employment.

Non-Workplace Injuries

Although an employee is injured away from the workplace, he is still able to recover workers’ compensation benefits if he was working or benefitting the employer when he was injured. One example is an employee who is required to travel as part of his job. Though he may not be on the employer’s premises when injured, such employee may nevertheless have access to workers’ compensation because he was in the process of advancing the interests of his employer.

Copyright 2012 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.