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When are on-the-job injuries compensable?

Some workplace injuries are obviously tied to the course of employment: a delivery-person who suffers a back injury while lifting a heavy package; a gym's personal trainer whose toes are broken when a client drops a weight on them; a restaurant line cook severely burned by a malfunctioning stove, just to name a few.

Things are not always as clear as these scenarios suggest, however. It is sometimes difficult to tell when an injury qualifies for workers' compensation benefits and when it does not.

In the course of employment

An injury is suffered in the normal course of the person's employment is usually compensable. Basically, when an injury happens while the person is performing his or her daily job tasks, it's most likely covered. In the examples given above, each of the injured parties were going through their normal business days and were subsequently injured.

On behalf of the employer

Some injuries are compensable even if they happen not in the "normal" course of the employee's job, but still while performing a task on behalf of the employer. We'll illustrate this premise with an example. An office worker named Jim is hurt in a car accident while out getting coffee for a special client meeting.

It isn't part of his everyday job duties to perform that task, but since these are important clients and the firm wants to make a good impression, they decided to serve coffee and other refreshments. Jim is performing a task on behalf of his employer when his injuries occur, so they will most likely be compensable. Cases like these are fact-specific, though, and require care to accurately represent them for the purpose of obtaining work comp benefits.

If you are unsure as to whether your on-the-job injuries are compensable under the workers' compensation system, consult an experienced attorney in your area.

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