Work parties offer the chance to build camaraderie among colleagues and teams, allowing employees to build lasting friendships and employers to boost company morale.
But what happens if the fun abruptly ends when an employee has a little too much to drink, or a friendly competition during a party game turns intense? If you sustained an injury during an office party, you may still be entitled to worker’s compensation and could receive coverage for your health care costs.
What Is a Work Injury?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration considers an injury to be work-related if “an event or exposure in the work environment either caused or contributed to the resulting condition or significantly aggravated a pre-existing injury or illness.” Generally, work injuries are due to specific events in the workplace. The work environment is the physical location where one or more employees are present because it’s their place of employment. Work environments also include equipment or materials an employee needs to do their job.
Common Injuries at Work Parties
Office parties, after-work happy hours and team-building activities break up the monotony of a typical workweek. While they’re a fun way to unwind, there’s still a chance you or a co-worker could get injured. In some cases, workers’ compensation can still cover your injury. If an injury occurs during an office party, employees should know their workers’ compensation rights. Here are some common injuries resulting from events at work parties.
- Slips, falls and trips: Spilled drinks, food or out-of-place furniture can all cause a slip-and-fall accident to occur. Some people get injured at a work Christmas or holiday party because of the cold weather outside, causing the parking lot or sidewalk to freeze.
- Party activity injuries: Party games are a great way to bond with co-workers, but sometimes the competition and excitement can cause someone to get hurt accidentally.
- Food poisoning: Though it’s rarely life-threatening or severe, food poisoning is a common work party injury that can be uncomfortable for all affected and, in some cases, require expensive medical attention.
- Alcohol-related injuries: These can range from feeling sick from drinking too much to falling due to lack of coordination.
When determining whether your employer is legally responsible for an injured employee during an office holiday party, social event, retreat or other company activity, you must ask yourself some questions. If your injury meets one or more of the following considerations, you may have a valid worker’s compensation case on your hands and could be entitled to compensation for it.
At Frommer D’Amico, we handle all worker’s compensation claims on a case-by-case basis. No two situations are identical, and there is no guaranteed outcome. Be thoughtful about all your claim’s variables, and don’t hesitate to contact a certified worker’s compensation expert if you are unsure.
Where Did the Event Take Place?
Worker’s compensation is more likely to cover injuries when the event is on company property rather than at a separate location. The injury is also more probable to result from a work-related incident if the event occurs on company premises.
Was the Event Part of the Job?
Your employer might be liable for your injury if the event where you received it was mandatory. Many courts have determined that if a company requires an employee to attend an event, it’s work-related, making the employer liable and the injury covered by worker’s compensation.
Who Paid for the Event?
The party is more likely to count as a work event if your employer hosted the party and covered its costs. Determining whether your employer took financial responsibility for the occasion will make a significant difference in identifying who is responsible for the injury or injuries.
When Did the Event Take Place?
If the event occurred during typical work hours, it’s possible to argue that it was work-related or employee attendance was mandatory. If the event happened outside regular working hours, there’s less chance of it being a work-related party. However, you need to consider variables like location.
Did the Company Benefit From the Event?
Typically, if your employer or company derives a monetary or intangible direct benefit from the event or activity that exceeds merely boosting employee morale, the party is within the course of legal employment. For example, if your boss expects you to network with clients who are also attending the party, it could be a work event for the purposes of your worker’s compensation claim.
Was Alcohol Involved?
Injuries sustained when attending or leaving work parties can be tricky, especially those involving alcohol. One of the most common injuries in these situations is car accidents resulting from an employee who drank at a company party. It’s best to remember these questions when determining injury liability at a work party that included alcohol consumption:
- Did your employer buy or supply the alcohol served to employees at the event?
- Did your employer hire the caterers or bartenders who served alcohol to employees at the event?
- Did your employer impose and enforce a drink limit for employees? Did team members observe it?
Was There Third-Party Negligence?
If an injury occurs during a work event at an outside venue and you can prove the owner’s negligence caused the injury, you might have a third-party claim against them. Here are some examples of situations in which a third party may be at fault:
- The venue owner failed to shovel ice or snow on their premises, causing you to slip and fall.
- You tripped over incorrectly secured wiring and cords.
- The venue owner failed to fix equipment they knew was faulty or broken, resulting in an injury to you.
Frommer D’Amico Can Help You With Your Work Party Injury
Getting injured at what was supposed to be a fun work party can be frustrating, but Frommer D’Amico’s certified worker’s compensation experts can guide you through your case and help you get the settlement you deserve. If you were injured at a work party and believe you have a workers’ compensation or third-party claim, contact us today for a free consultation.