The workers’ compensation scheme covers employees whose injuries arise out of and in the course of employment. The phrase “arising out of and in the course of employment” seems simple, but its application can be quite complex. This is a concept that courts have not given clear guidance on, and therefore it is a question that often ends up being litigated. Our last blog focused on what it means to arise out of the course of employment. This week we focus on “arising in the course of employment.”
In Minnesota, an employee is injured “in the course of” employment when the injury occurs on the premises where service to the employer is required and during the hours of this service. Basically, you need to be hurt at work during work hours to bring a claim. This seems pretty straight forward, but there are a few scenarios where it can get quite complex.
One example is the employee whose home is also her workplace. In a 2014 case, a man was working as the caretaker of a building where he also lived. He decided to move his car to another parking spot for reasons that were unrelated to his job. On the way to his vehicle, he noticed some trash in the hallway of the building. He picked up the trash with the intention of walking it to the garbage can outside. Before he arrived at the garbage can, he stopped to start his car so that it could warm up. He then threw away the garbage and slipped and fell on some ice on the way back to his car. The court ruled that this injury occurred in the course of the man’s employment because his original intention of making a personal trip to his car was superseded by his trip to the garbage can for his employer.
As you can see from the example above, you may have a claim against an employer without even realizing it. The best way to determine whether or not your injury occurred “in the course of employment” is to speak to a workers’ compensation attorney who can evaluate your claim and help protect your rights.