Most people in Illinois understand that if you get hurt at work, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. For example, a person might have a workers’ compensation injury if they throw out their back trying to lift something heavy at work or if they experience repetitive stress trauma from performing repetitious tasks at work all day long. However, what if a person is injured outside the workplace? Can such an injury allow them to pursue workers’ compensation benefits?
In general, to receive workers’ compensation benefits, a person’s injuries must be work-related. What is considered a work-related injury can be interpreted rather expansively, however. For example, depending on the circumstances, if a worker is driving a company-owned vehicle in the course of job duties and is subsequently involved a car accident, then the worker may be able to pursue workers’ compensation for the injuries they suffered in the crash. Similarly, if a worker is injured at an official company event held by their employer, such as the company holiday party, that worker might pursue workers’ compensation even if the event was not held on company-owned property.
However, injuries that are not work-related may not be covered by workers’ compensation. For example, twisting your ankle while at “happy hour” with your work colleagues may not be compensable by workers’ compensation, as it wasn’t an official employer-sponsored activity. Or, being injured at home or in a car crash unrelated to work may also disqualify a person from receiving workers’ compensation.
The key to determining whether a person can pursue workers’ compensation is whether the injury was work-related. What is work-related can be somewhat subjective. Workers will want to explore their legal options for appealing a denial of an application for workers’ compensation, so they can receive the benefits they deserve.