Part 1: You're Hurt on the Job. Can You Recover Your Lost Wages?
So you got hurt on the job and will be laid up for a couple of weeks. Life goes on, and you still have to pay for groceries and other expenses. Naturally, you’re wondering if your lost wages can be recovered. Fortunately, your employer is required to carry workers’ compensation but how do you know if you are eligible to recover your lost wages?
To be “compensable”:
- Your injury must be connected in some way to your employment.
- It must occur while you were doing some act on behalf of your employer or otherwise in the course of employment. By way of example, let’s say your job requires you to climb scaffolding and you fall and sprain your ankle. This injury occurred on the job site while you were performing your job duties. However, the injury can occur elsewhere, such as in company-owned trucks or other company-owned locations, or even at a company party or other event sponsored by your employer but not on company-owned property.
- You must be temporarily unable to perform your job duties and your doctor has taken you off of work.
It depends on the nature of the travel involved. If it happens when you are commuting to and from work, no, it’s generally not covered; but if travel is an integral part of your job and creates a greater risk than a typical commute—say, if you’re a salesperson with a large geographic territory and you’re putting miles on the road every day—it may be covered.
What if something happens when I’m on my lunch break or in the parking lot?
If you are on a lunch break or other authorized break on the employer’s premises, the injury could be compensable. An injury that is sustained off-premises on a lunch hour, however, generally is not covered; however, in/on a parking lot or garage owned or controlled by your company, you will generally be compensated.
What is not covered?
The workers’ comp statute says that an “injury” does not include psychiatric conditions (except where the condition has arisen from an injury or occupational disease); injury or disability caused primarily by the natural deterioration of tissue, an organ, or body part; or an injury or disability sustained when you are participating voluntarily in an employer-sponsored recreation or fitness activity (provided that you have signed a waiver of compensation for injuries sustained in such activities).
There are other circumstances when compensation may be denied for an injury, even where the injury may have occurred on the employers’ premises. These include purposely self-inflicted injuries, intoxication and horseplay. So, no fighting with your co-workers, okay?