Most people think of the office party as a chance to get to know their co-workers better, an opportunity to network, or a way to simply celebrate the season and a great year, but there is also a risk that someone at the office party will be injured.
Employees planning to attend their office’s party don’t usually consider the fact that they could get hurt during the celebrations, but the possibility does exist. Employees should know what their rights are in case they end up taking an injury home after the party.
Common Accidents that Occur at Work Parties:
- Slip and Fall Accidents: It’s fairly easy for a slip and fall accident to occur during an office party as the weather is typically colder, which can lead to snow or ice in parking lots and driveways. In addition, slip and fall accidents can occur as a result of spilled food or drink, over-enthusiastic dancing, or objects or furniture that is out of place.
- “Sports” Injuries: Many office parties will include games or a sports activity (i.e. kickball or Minute to Win It) as a part of the gathering. It’s a lot of fun – but don’t be surprised if someone gets hurt.
- Food Poisoning: Another common injury that can occur at office parties is food poisoning. While this type of injury is rarely fatal and often not a serious danger to your health, it can be quite uncomfortable and, in some cases, may require fairly expensive medical care.
- Alcohol-related Injuries: These come in a wide range from becoming physically sick from too much alcohol to falling due to a lack of coordination from drinking too much, etc.
If an injury does occur at the work party, employees should know what to do next. Does workers’ compensation cover the injury if it happens during the office party? Or is that only a possibility if the employee is injured during the regular work day?
In some instances, employees injured during an office work party are still entitled to apply for workers’ compensation benefits because workers’ compensation insurance covers injuries that are incurred during the course of employment. Not all office work parties fall into this category, but many do. This will be particularly true if the holiday work party takes place during regular work hours. When you are attempting to decipher whether or not your work party would be considered as occurring during the “course of employment” ask yourself a few questions:
- Was employee attendance mandatory at the work party? Did employee compensation depend upon attendance? If so, there is a strong argument that the work party was “during the course of employment” and that injuries incurred during the party would be covered by workers’ compensation.
- When was the office party? Was it during normal operating hours of the company or was it at a separate time and location? If it was at the office, during normal operating hours, it could be argued that attendance was expected and therefore was a work-related duty.
- Who paid for the festivities? Whether or not the employer took financial responsibility for the party makes a big difference when attempting to determine if an employer is responsible for any injuries that may have occurred during the event. If the employer hosted the party and covered the costs of the gathering, it’s more likely that it will be defined as a work event and that the injuries incurred during the office Christmas party would be covered by workers’ compensation.
- Did the company benefit from the event in some way? For instance, were employees in attendance expected to talk to and interact with clients who were also in attendance at the party? If so, it may be considered a work event which would mean that workers’ compensation applies to injuries that occurred during that time.
If you are injured during an office work party and you believe you have a valid workers’ compensation claim, it’s important to file as soon as possible. Please get in touch with one of the experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at Stanley-Wallace Law.