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Am I Entitled to Workers' Compensation After Being Injured at the Company Holiday Party?

Am I Entitled to Workers' Compensation After Being Injured at the Company Holiday Party?

As the holidays approach, most people look forward to gatherings with friends and family, and taking a little time off work to celebrate. Yet for those injured on the job this holiday season, time off work can be another reason to worry.

One situation that puts employees at the cross-section of these concerns is injuries sustained at company holiday parties. At the office of Michael J. Doyle, Attorney at Law, we are committed to finding solutions for your personal injury needs, no matter what time of year your injury occurred. Keep reading to learn about what your options are if you have been injured at a holiday work party, and contact our Albuquerque workers’ compensation lawyer if you or someone you know has recently been injured at work.

What to Know About Holiday Party Injuries

In general, employees who are injured at company holiday parties should not expect to receive workers’ compensation. Why? Because even if you were at your work site when the injury happened, you were most likely engaging in social activities outside of the purview of your work agreement.

However, there may be several exceptions to this norm. For instance, if you are injured while performing a duty related to your usual job while at an employee holiday party, your employer may owe you workers’ comp. Additionally, if you are at a company party for a time, then leave to go perform a task related to your position at said company, and are injured during the period you are away from the party, this may also be grounds for a workers’ comp claim. If you choose to perform additional tasks for a company party, unrelated to your usual position, and are injured performing these tasks, you may or may not be entitled to workers’ compensation, depending on the nature of these tasks (i.e. were they unreasonable in any way, was there an expectation you would be fired if you did not perform them, were they in any way similar to what you do in your day-to-day position at the company?).

For some employees, organizing a company holiday party may be part of your job. If you are injured in your efforts to organize a company party, you may be able to seek compensation for work done up to and during the the party. At other companies, it may be an expectation for employees to attend company functions, as if it were part of their job. In these instances, where employees fear repercussion for not attending company events, it may be possible to seek workers’ compensation for injuries sustained during a holiday party. At company parties where you are expected to conduct business and interface directly with your employer, you may also be able to seek workers’ compensation, should you sustain any injuries.

Questions to consider when pursuing a workers’ comp claim related to a holiday party:

  • Where did the party take place? Once again, If the party happened at your place of business, you are unlikely to receive compensation, though you are more likely to receive compensation than if it occurred outside of your work site, depending on whether your injuries resulted from faulty equipment/property owned by your company. Injuries sustained at work parties may also open the possibility of a premises liability suit, however, many employers forbid employees from bringing these cases against them in their work agreements.
  • When did the party take place? If the party took place during usual business hours rather than after work, it may be possible to argue for workers’ compensation, as the lines between when work stopped and socializing started are likely to be blurred.
  • Who paid for the party? If your employer paid for the party, it is easier to argue for workers’ compensation, as they hold greater responsibility for what occurred at the event.
  • Was there alcohol at the party? This is a big one, especially as it relates to your work agreement. Some employers allow for alcohol to be served at company events, in which case they most likely will not cover alcohol-related injuries under a workers’ comp agreement. However, if alcohol is not typically allowed at work events, your employer may be held responsible for any alcohol-related injuries that occur. Furthermore, if an irresponsible level of alcohol consumption is allowed, beyond what would normally be tolerated, it may be possible to hold an employer accountable.
  • Did anyone get sick at the party? While employers’ responsibility for their employees’ safety does not usually extend beyond work hours, an exception may be made if any employee gets sick eating food an employer gave them. Depending on the specifics of your work agreement, it may be possible to argue that your employer violated your rights by serving food or beverages that resulted in poisoning or illness.
  • Did your employer benefit from the party? If your employer benefited from a company holiday party in any way, either through employee or outside contributions, it may be possible to argue that the event was held for their financial gain. Therefore your attendance equates to work hours and may entitle you to compensation in the case of an injury.

Steps you should take if you are injured at a company holiday party:

  1. Leave: The worst thing you could do to interfere with your chances for compensation would be to stay at a work party after getting injured. If you do this, your employer is likely to argue that your injury was not serious, and therefore does not merit workers’ comp. Once you are injured at a company party, the best move is to leave and not come back.
  2. Don’t tell your co-workers: The second worst thing you could do to interfere with a workers’ comp claim following a holiday party injury would be to discuss what happened with your co-workers. Although this may be tempting, the chances of gossip spreading back to management are high, and they may either argue that you violated your work agreement by discussing the incident or begin preparing their own counsel to build a case against you.
  3. Hire an attorney: The sooner you act in a workers’ comp case, the better. The right attorney will be able to first determine whether you have a case and second the best possible way to go about achieving maximum workers’ compensation benefits for you.

Call Michael J. Doyle, Attorney at Law Today

With over a decade of trial-tested experience and no fees charged unless a settlement is secured, you can trust Michael J. Doyle, Attorney at Law to fight tirelessly on your behalf. From retail accidents to office injuries, our firm offers careful, compassionate, and comprehensive workers’ compensation assistance to the people of Albuquerque. Never settle for representation that will make you feel like just another client. With Michael J. Doyle, you’ll get one-on-one legal assistance designed to win your case.

Don’t wait, call (505) 219-2176 for workers’ comp questions, or contact us online for a free case evaluation.

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