When you think of a Workers’ Compensation claim, the first image that usually comes to mind is a literal injury on the job, like a fall at a construction site; but does the injury have to happen on the premises in order to qualify for a claim? The answer is: not necessarily.
Workers’ Comp covers an injury, illness or disability that happened while you were involved in the performance of a work duty. As job duties vary widely, this can mean many things. A Workers’ Compensation claim must be an injury or illness that is connected to your work or which resulted from your work. This does not necessarily mean it has to happen on the actual job site.
Work done off-site
Many types of jobs require off-site work, such as errands, remote sales calls or public service. For instance, if you were on your way to a job site and you were involved in a car accident, this could be grounds for a Workers’ Comp claim. Technicians who go to remote locations to install or repair equipment are fully covered in the event of some sort of accident.
If you are participating in a training exercise that was mandatory for your position, and you were injured, this could also qualify. Accidents that occur during business travel are also valid, even if it’s after hours; for example, if you had to fly to a conference and you slipped and fell while walking back to your hotel from the conference hall, a claim could be filed. Working from home, taking a business-related call while driving, or traveling between two work sites are all valid claims.
Illnesses or diseases resulting from exposure to chemicals are common claims. These are called occupational diseases. An occupational disease is one that results from your work, over time. You may first notice symptoms while at home. In this case, it’s important to seek medical attention right away so that you can document and confirm that this is a work-related illness.
What does not qualify
Under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA), an illness, injury or disability is covered if it was sustained during the "course and scope of your employment." Find more information here: [https://www.dol.gov/owcp/dfec/regs/statutes/feca.htm]
A good rule of thumb is: if you were injured while engaged in an activity that benefitted your employer, it should be covered. It would follow that if you were doing something that was not work related, or didn’t benefit your employer, it would not be covered by Workers’ Compensation. An example of this would be taking a day off to go to a sports event while out of town on business. If you run personal errands during a work day, you should not expect coverage for any incident that happens during this time.Other things that do not qualify are:
- Your normal daily to-and-from-work commute
- Recreational or entertainment activities
- Any sort of substance abuse
- Participating in unprofessional physical activity or “horseplay”
Determining Workers’ Comp eligibility
Even with these simple guidelines, the subject of Workers’ Comp can get complex. At OWCP DOCS of Houston, TX we are experts in these details. Let us help you to determine how you can be compensated for your injury or illness, and let’s get you back to work.