Workers' compensation is a mandatory form of insurance that many employers across Florida must take out to protect their workers. Workers' compensation covers medical and other costs if you suffer an injury while carrying out your duties, but the extent of coverage can become unclear in certain situations. If you suffer an injury while attending a charitable event related to your work, should your workers' compensation insurance pay for your medical bills? Find out here.
Workers' compensation liability
A large number of workers in Florida benefit from workers' compensation insurance, but several groups of people are exempt from cover. For example, independent contractors are not eligible for workers' compensation insurance, and Florida statutes describe various criteria that clearly define who falls under this definition.
According to the same law, volunteers and people who work for non-profit agencies and charities are not normally eligible for workers' compensation, unless they volunteer for the state or another government entity. While the rules about insurance coverage are generally clear in these statutes, certain situations can throw up more complex scenarios. If you attend a charity event related to your work, you can quickly see how certain laws about workers' compensation could clash.
Defining work-related activity
If you are eligible for workers' compensation insurance, there are also limits to your coverage. Generally speaking, liability for an accident extends to a rule that your lawyer will often refer to as course-and-scope. In simple terms, this means that your employer's liability extends to any activities or duties that you carry out in the course or scope of your role. For example, liability includes travel to and from your place of work.
This definition is often open to interpretation. While liability covers your daily commute, your insurance coverage technically ends if you decide to take a detour on the way. For example, if you stop off at the supermarket to buy a pint of milk on the way home from work, your workers' compensation insurance will not cover an injury you incur in the store.
The definition of work-related activity can become particularly complex when it comes to charitable events.
Charitable events as work-related activity
If you decide to attend a charity event, your workers' compensation insurance may not protect you while you are in attendance. In theory, your employer may argue that this activity falls outside the course-and-scope rule. Of course, your attorney may disagree, and a court will consider several factors if legal action follows.
A court will often rule in your favour if there is evidence that the charitable event falls under the course-and-scope rule. Florida law says that recreational and social activities are not compensable unless the employer asks you to attend and/or there is a benefit to the employer if you attend.
Each case is different, but considerations a court will make include:
Sponsorship. If your employer sponsors the event, a court may decide that attendance forms part of your role.
Invitation. If your employer invites, persuades or even coerces you to attend the event, a court will often rule that this is part of your job.
Links to performance. If your employer considers attendance at the event as part of your performance objectives, it would become difficult to say that this is not within the course-and-scope rule.
Given the subjective nature of these cases, it's important to consult a trained workers' compensation attorney. He or she can help you understand how to improve your chances of a successful claim.
If a court rules that attendance at a charity event falls outside the course-and-scope rule, you may still have other legal options. For example, a personal injury lawsuit may become an option if you suffer an injury because of another person's negligence. Of course, you may need to file a personal injury lawsuit against another third party, but this action could still help you recover expensive medical costs.
If you suffer an injury at a work-related charitable event, you may need to claim on your workers' compensation insurance. Talk to an experienced attorney for more information and advice, or visit sites like http://ransomgilbertson.com/.