If your employee has a work-related injury or illness, you may be responsible for paying the workers’ compensation benefits. In order to understand whether your business is liable for an employee’s claim for workers’ compensation, it is vital to have a comprehensive understanding of what is a “work-related injury” within the meaning of California law.
A work-related injury could be from two basic categories. First, it could be from a single incident. For example, if your employee is injured in falling off of a roof. Second, it could be from repeated actions performed on the job. A common example of this type of injury would be hearing loss from repeated exposure to loud machinery. Both types of work-related injuries are covered under workers’ compensation laws.
It is important to note that a work-related injury does not necessarily have to be an injury that completely originated at the work place. If an employee’s pre-existing injury was “significantly aggravated” by the work environment, this can also fall under workers’ compensation. The definition of “significantly aggravated” is complex, but would include certain incidents (such as death, loss of consciousness, or other medical treatment) or illnesses that would not have happened but for the employee’s exposure to the conditions at work.
Injuries can also be work-related even if an employee is travelling at the time. The injury would be considered work-related, even though the employee is not physically at the place of business, if the employee was engaged in activities on behalf of the employer at the time of the injury.
However, not all injuries that happen at work are necessarily work-related. If a worker is at the work place as a member of the public and not in his or her working capacity, then any injury sustained would not be a work-related injury. For example, if a grocery store worker is at the store shopping for groceries when he sustains an injury through a slip-and-fall accident, then that is not a work-related injury, even though he works at that store. Another injury that would not be considered work-related would be if an employee is injured through voluntary participation in a wellness program, vaccination program, or blood donation. Intentional self-infliction of harm, injury sustained as a result of self-medication for a non-work-related condition, or injury from personal grooming are also not considered work-related, even if these injuries happen in the work place.
Whether an injury is work-related is not always a cut-and-dried answer. If you have questions about whether your employee’s injury is being properly categorized as work-related, contact me at (714) 516-8188 or email [email protected].