Was Your Work Injury Sustained “in the Course and the Scope of Employment”?
Florida workers are entitled to compensation for injuries sustained on the job, but those injuries must arise “in the course and the scope of employment.” It’s not always clear what activities fall under that definition, especially when workers perform activities that are not within their job description. Much of that uncertainty has been clarified under Florida law. Here is how state law classifies recreational and social activities, comings and goings, deviations from employment, traveling employees, and subsequent intervening accidents:
Recreational and Social Activities
Employers will often sponsor softball teams, company picnics, and other recreational and social activities for their employees. But an employee injured while participating in one of these activities generally is not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Florida law expressly states that recreational and social activities are not compensable unless they are “an expressly required incident of employment and produce a substantial direct benefit to the employer beyond improvement in employee health and morale that is common to all kinds of recreation and social life.”
Comings and Goings
Under most circumstances, an employee’s commute to and from work is not considered an activity done in the course of employment, even if the employer provides the means of transportation. So if you are injured in a car accident on your way to work you are likely not eligible for workers’ compensation. The only exception is if you were engaged in a special errand for your employer. Additionally, an injury to a law enforcement officer while commuting to or from work in an official law enforcement vehicle is presumed to be within the course of employment “unless the injury occurred during a distinct deviation for a nonessential personal errand.”
Deviations from Employment
If an employee deviates from the course of employment, including leaving the premises, and sustains an injury, that injury is not compensable unless the deviation was expressly approved by the employer or it was in response to an emergency and designed to save life or property. For example, if you leave work in the middle of the day to run a personal errand and are injured, then you probably aren’t eligible for benefits.
If an employee is required to travel as part of the job, then he or she is eligible for workers’ compensation benefits for injuries sustained during travel, but only if “he or she is actively engaged in the duties of employment.” This only applies to travel that is necessarily incident to an employee’s job responsibilities and generally does not include commuting to and from work.
Subsequent Intervening Accidents
An employee who is injured on the job will need medical treatment for that injury. If he or she is injured again while traveling to or from a healthcare provider to receive treatment for the compensable injury, the traveling injury will also be compensable. But any other injury caused by a subsequent intervening accident (such as medical malpractice), will not be compensable under Florida’s workers’ compensation law.
Contact Us Today
Contact Nicole Hessen, P.A. today if you have been injured on the job or developed an occupational disease in West Palm Beach to speak with one of our skilled attorneys. We will determine your eligibility and help recover the compensation that you are entitled to receive under Florida law.