Can I Get Workers’ Comp for Business Trip Injuries?
Workers’ compensation seems simple on the surface: you receive benefits from workers’ compensation after a work-related injury (instead of having to sue your employer or use your own health care).
However, there are many exceptions, exemptions, and irregularities to workers’ compensation law—making it confusing to the average worker. How do you know if your injury is covered or not?
Today, we’re tackling another important workers’ comp issue: are business trip injuries covered by workers’ compensation?
Keep reading to find out!
Workers’ Comp & Business Trips
What does workers’ comp cover?
Under Ohio law, workers’ compensation covers injuries and illnesses that are within the “course and scope of your employment.”
Workers’ comp covers things like:
- Injuries that occur because of an accident in the workplace
- Repetitive stress injuries caused by the motions of the job
- Occupational illnesses that develop because of the job environment
Most courts interpret the phrase “course and scope of employment” pretty broadly, often erring on the side of the worker. However, there are some important exceptions.
Workers’ compensation does not typically cover:
- Injuries that happen while you are driving to and from work (called the “coming and going” rule)
- Any injuries that happen after you left work for lunch on your break
- Injuries that occur during voluntary, after-hours social events with coworkers
- Any injuries that happen because an employee was intoxicated or fighting
Are business trips covered?
When it comes to business trips, workers’ compensation coverage is a gray area.
These cases aren’t as cut-and-dry as a case involving an employee who fell in the workplace hallway during office hours. Business trips involve travel and a mix of business and recreational activities, which muddy the waters.
Whether or not an injury sustained on a business trip will be covered by workers’ comp often depends heavily on the situation—making each case different.
Business Trip Travel
For employees on business trips, Ohio’s “coming and going” rule doesn’t always apply. This rule applies to in-town and local travel. However, employees who have to travel farther away for work may be covered by workers’ comp during their travel time.
For example, an employee who gets into a car accident while on the way to the airport, to catch a flight booked and paid for by their employer, may have their injuries covered. The employee can argue that this instance of travel was part of the course of their employment.
Business Activities vs. Leisure Activities
Many workers’ comp cases involving business trips hinge on what the employee was doing at the time of their injury. Was the situation work-related, or not?
For example, let’s say an employee is on a business trip to Columbus, when she decides to go out to eat with friends in town during her off hours. She gets into a car accident on the way to dinner. In this hypothetical case, because she was engaging in a non-work-related leisure activity, workers’ comp likely wouldn’t cover her injuries. This would be the case even though she was only in Columbus because of his job.
On the other hand, let’s say an employee on a business trip takes a client out to dinner. While in the restaurant, he slips on a wet floor. In this hypothetical case, the employee was engaging in a work-related activity: taking a client out to dinner falls under the scope of his employment, so he would likely be covered by workers’ comp.
In the above scenarios, both employees were injured while going out to dinner. However, only one would get workers’ comp.
What to Do after a Business Trip Injury
If you are injured while on a business trip, there are a few things you must do.
First and foremost, seek medical care immediately, especially in an emergency situation. Inform your medical provider that you are seeking care for a work-related injury.
Then, you should contact your employer right away. Don’t wait until you return from the business trip to let them know you’ve been injured. Your employer will want to file an incident report with their insurance company.
When you can, document what happened. Write down how the accident happened, what you were doing at the time of the accident, and what your injuries are. Be sure to be as specific as possible, but don’t exaggerate.
You’ll also need to file First Report of Injury (FROI) to start your workers’ compensation claim with the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. (Note that the FROI can be filed by you, your employer, or your employer’s managed care organization.)
When to Consider a Workers’ Comp Attorney
As we said above, workers’ comp cases involving business trips can be complicated.
It’s often a good idea to contact a workers’ compensation lawyer if you aren’t sure whether your injury is covered or if you need help filing the FROI for your workers’ comp claim. In addition, it’s always a good idea to consult an attorney if your employer decides to fight your workers’ comp claim.
Having a dedicated workers’ comp attorney on your side can increase your odds of success. A good attorney can help you through the workers’ comp process, fighting for you every step of the way.
If you need help after a business trip injury, Casper & Casper is here for you. Contact us today to speak to a workers’ comp attorney about your claim.