Some workplace injuries are very cut and dry. You’re operating a machine when it malfunctions and traps your hand, leaving you with a broken hand. You’re carrying something for a client when your back spasms and you can’t even walk. You’re working on a construction site when a careless driver hits you.
But what happens if your case isn’t quite so black and white? What happens if you get injured on your lunch break, for example? Learn more about how workers’ compensation insurance companies decide these claims. For more personalized advice regarding your workplace injury, call Thiry & Caddell at 251-478-8880.
Where You Eat Lunch May Matter
To begin, it matters where your accident happens. If it happens on-site at your workplace, it is fairly likely that they have some liability for your injury. Your employer has an obligation to keep employees’ areas safe and clean to prevent injury. However, since you can’t sue your employer for a workplace injury, you would have to go through the workers’ compensation system.
If your injury occurs off-site, the situation becomes a little more complicated. If you typically work in the same place and you have the option to eat on-site, you may have a hard time claiming that your injury is work-related. However, if you go between locations a lot during the course of your work, stopping somewhere for lunch may be a regular part of your workday. In that situation, you may have a stronger case for a workers’ compensation claim.
What You’re Doing is Important, Too
On top of that, you have to consider what you were doing when you were injured. Workers’ compensation claims generally cover injuries that happen within the normal scope of your work. If you are eating your lunch, conversing with coworkers, and cleaning up after yourself, any injury that happens may be considered part of your regular workday. If, on the other hand, you choke while showing your coworkers how many paper clips you can fit in your mouth, you may have a hard time convincing the workers’ compensation insurance provider that your injury occurred in your regular scope of duties.
Don’t Forget About Third Party Claims
Depending on the circumstances of your workplace injury, you may be able to pursue a third-party claim to recover some of your losses. Consider, for example, that you go out to get a burger at lunch. You slip and fall on the recently mopped floor, which did not have a “Wet Floor” sign. Another example: you are driving from work to a local restaurant for lunch. Another driver runs a red light and strikes you on your passenger side, leaving you injured.
In both of these cases, someone else is liable for your injury—not you and not your employer. While workers’ compensation may or may not come through with money for medical bills and lost income, you may also be able to sue the liable party for compensation.
Figuring Out Where Your Injury Fits
Clearly, there are no easy answers when it comes to workplace injuries that happen when you are not on the clock. Everything comes down to the unique circumstances of your injury. You may start by talking to your supervisor or manager. You’ll need to report the injury and find out if you can file a workers’ compensation claim. If they refuse and say that you can’t file a claim for a lunchtime injury, don’t give up just yet. If you believe you may have a workers’ compensation claim, it’s time to talk to an attorney. They understand the intricacies of Alabama workers’ compensation laws and they can figure out how they apply to you.
If you’re considering a third-party injury claim, you’ll also need to get in touch with a personal injury attorney. They will help you gather evidence, prove your claim, and fight for the compensation you deserve. With a third-party injury claim, you can ask for more compensation than you can with a workers’ comp claim. You can ask for full lost wages, pain and suffering, and other expenses.
Find Out How Thiry & Caddell Can Help You