As we've previously discussed on this blog, defining what does and doesn't qualify as "on the job" is a point of contention in many workers' compensation disputes. If a person is injured while in the normal course of the workday, cases might be easier to work through. However, some situations land in a legal gray area, which was the situation in a recent North Carolina work-related injury case.
A woman who worked for a North Carolina car dealership went to a company-wide sales meeting and was injured during the business trip. The point of dispute in the case was that the woman was allegedly drunk at the time of the incident. Recently, a state appeals court ruled that the woman wouldn't be ineligible for compensation, largely because her employer provided the alcohol that contributed to the accident.
While at the business conference, the woman fell from an elevator and became temporarily disabled. Her injuries prevented her from performing her job, which is usually enough to approve a workers' compensation claim.
Although this particular case has some unique details, it's important to remember that injuries sustained during a business trip are generally considered to be during the normal course of employment. As such, many injuries sustained while traveling on business could be compensable according to North Carolina law.
Not every workplace injury case is going to be clear cut, which is why it may be beneficial to determine your rights in the event of an accident. Just because a workers' compensation is initially denied doesn't necessarily mean that an employee isn't eligible to obtain coverage for an injury that prevents him or her from working.
Source: Risk & Insurance, "Intoxication from employer-provided alcohol doesn't bar benefits," April 1, 2013
Dealing with the effects of a work-related injury can be both painful and confusing. To learn more, please see our Greensboro workers' compensation page.