There is a common assumption that workers’ comp benefits are available for any injury that occurs in the workplace environment, since the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission requires most employers to carry a workers’ comp insurance policy. Unfortunately, such a blanket statement is not entirely true. Many types of bodily harm that happen at work are not covered by the system, primarily because they do not “arise out of” the victim’s employment. As a result, you can be sure your employer’s workers’ comp insurer will raise any available defenses based upon this concept. If the company can show that your injuries were not sufficiently connected to your employment, it can lawfully avoid paying benefits.
However, you should not always accept the insurer’s denial of benefits at face value. The facts may not be enough to support a defense, so you could still be eligible. You can rely on a Virginia workers’ compensation attorney to explain the details, but you should be aware of insurance company tactics in this area.
Though separate doctrines, these two concepts refer to how an employee’s individual circumstances might lead to injuries that are not work-related. If you suffer from a pre-existing medical condition, it could be considered idiopathic, meaning the true cause of your bodily harm is personal to you. Hazards on the job would not affect another worker in the same way, so your employer could have a valid reason to deny your claim.
Personal risk is a defense an employer might raise when there is no pre-existing medical condition, but the worker’s injuries are in no way related to the performance of job duties. An example might be getting a burn if you lit a cigarette while working.
The most common defense an employer might employ in this category is an accident in connection with personal travel or errands. Officially, you might be on the clock while picking up your mail or have permission from your supervisor to drop off a prescription. Because these tasks are not related to job tasks, your employer could dispute your workers’ comp claim because it deviates from what you would normally do on the job.
Many employers arrange activities like retreats, competitions, and other events to promote morale, employee well-being, or other benefits. If you are hurt while participating voluntarily, you will most likely not be covered because the activity is not connected to job performance. The exception may be where your participation is as an organizer of an event, since your efforts are more closely tied to following the instructions of your employer.
If your workers’ comp claim was denied because your injuries did not arise in the context of your employment, you should talk to an experienced attorney about your options. To learn more about how these defenses work and whether you have a valid claim please call Hampton Injury Law PLC. We can schedule a free case evaluation with a Virginia workers’ compensation lawyer to review your circumstances.
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