Dec 12, 2023
Hurt At the Company Christmas Party: Will Workers Comp Cover It?
As the Holiday Season approaches and companies gear up for their festive celebrations, one crucial aspect often overlooked is the potential risks and implications of injuries that occur during these events. While the company Christmas party is a time for camaraderie and merriment, it’s essential to recognize the legal and logistical aspects, particularly concerning workers’ compensation.
Everyone has at least one story where a company party got a little too out of hand. While some stories end with a headache and an embarrassing story, others end with injuries much more severe. If an employee gets injured at a company-sponsored celebration, liability lines can grow increasingly blurry.
Understanding the intricacies of how injuries sustained during these gatherings are addressed within the realm of workers’ compensation is vital for both employers and employees alike. With that in mind, let’s delve into this often misunderstood and overlooked facet of workplace safety and legalities.
Does Workers’ Compensation Cover Injuries That Happen at a Party?
The true answer is — it depends. The coverage of injuries sustained at a company-sponsored event like a Christmas party under workers’ compensation can be complex and dependent on several factors. In general, if the event is considered within the scope of employment, injuries that occur there might be covered. However, determining this can involve considerations like the location of the event, whether attendance was mandatory, and whether the company benefited from employees being there.
Each and every workers’ compensation case is unique and requires an assessment based on the specific circumstances surrounding the injury. Consulting with the legal team at Hansford McDaniel will give you more insight about your scenario in particular. Our workers’ compensation lawyers in Atlanta are knowledgeable about workers’ compensation laws in Georgia and can give you answers to your specific questions.
Factors That Affect a Workers’ Compensation Claim
In the context of a workers’ compensation claim related to an injury sustained at a company party, several factors can influence whether the claim will be covered. Consider the following:
The Scope of Your Employment
Whether attendance at the party was voluntary or mandatory will come into play. As well, whether or not you were benefiting the company in some way (such as networking or conducting business), might be considered within the scope of employment. Were you asked to DJ the party? Did your boss tell you that he or she wanted everyone to attend?
The Location and Timing of the Party
Where the event occurred and the time of the injury in relation to the party are important. If the injury happened during the scheduled party hours and at the designated venue, it might strengthen the claim. However, if you slipped in the parking lot walking back to your car, this is going to be a more difficult argument to make.
The Activities and Purpose of the Celebration
If the party primarily served a business purpose, such as celebrating work achievements or team-building, the likelihood of coverage might increase. On the other hand, if the event was purely social and unrelated to work, it could impact the claim negatively. A Christmas party could be seen as both, and we’ll work hard to prove yours should be covered.
The Circumstances in Which You Were Injured
The nature and cause of the injury will also be considered. If it happened due to reckless behavior, intoxication, or activities unrelated to the purpose of the gathering, it might weaken the claim.
That’s not to say if you were drinking you don’t have a claim. While moderate drinking at Christmas parties falls within social norms, overconsumption leading to issues around your personal responsibility. Georgia does not prohibit compensation if intoxication caused the accident the way some other states do, but it does make your claim much more difficult to pursue and win.
Any Relevant Company Policies
Any explicit or implicit policies regarding company-sponsored events, workers’ compensation, or safety measures can impact the claim’s outcome. If you work for a large corporation, like Delta or Home Depot, it’s quite likely that your company already has documentation outlining exactly what will and won’t be covered.
Witnesses and Documentation
Can anyone back up your claim? Were there surveillance cameras in the area that captured your injury? Perhaps someone was streaming live for a social media account and caught the event. Eyewitness accounts, incident reports, and other documentation play a crucial role in substantiating the claim.
What About a Premise Liability Claim?
This is another possibility. It is possible your injury doesn’t qualify for a workers’ compensation claim but does for a premise liability claim.
Georgia premises liability laws hold property owners responsible for maintaining a safe environment for guests and visitors. Premises liability involves hazardous property conditions causing an injury, most often due to negligent upkeep. If your injury was the result of tripping due to inadequate lighting in the bathroom or slipping on a wet floor without a warning sign, a premises liability claim against the venue owners or party sponsors may apply.
All of that being said, proving liability in these cases can be complex. Factors such as the property owner’s duty of care, the foreseeability of the danger, your own actions, and other circumstances surrounding the incident will be considered. If this is an option we decide to pursue, our attorneys will look into any unsafe conditions that the property owner knew about or should have known about and failed to address, meaning you might have grounds for a premises liability claim rather than a workers’ compensation claim. We will work with the top firms in Georgia who handle claims such as these to ensure you have the best representation possible.
Contact Hansford McDaniel to Move Your Georgia Workers’ Compensation Claim Forward
Proving liability in these cases can be complex. The determination of whether an injury at a company Christmas party is covered by workers’ compensation requires a case-by-case assessment based on the unique circumstances surrounding the incident. Our workers’ compensation lawyers here at Hansford McDaniel are well-versed in Georgia laws and regulations that apply to your situation. Contact us for a free case evaluation so that we can learn more about you and your injury and provide you with a more accurate understanding of your possible next steps.