We’ve just passed the time when many workplaces celebrate the holidays with after work festivities. But what happens if you get hurt at a work party? Or on an out-of-town trip? Does your employer have to pay for the work injury? The answer may depend on the facts of the case and your work injury lawyer.
Maybe yes: Take the case of Evans v. Hendrick Automotive, where a work-sponsored dinner turned tragic because of the alcohol provided by the employer. Ms. Evans fell from an escalator on her way back to her hotel. The employer argued that it was not responsible for Ms. Evans’s injuries and that the fall was a result of an intentional act But expert testified that, though Ms. Evans had not been intoxicated, her lack of experience with alcohol contributed to her loss of judgment.
In North Carolina, the general rule is that accidents caused by an employee’s drinking are not covered by workers’ comp. But that rule flies out of the window if the employer furnishes the alcohol. It is only fair – an employer should not be able to provide alcohol and then deny the accident caused by the drinking!
Ms. Evans survived the multiple broken bones and the head injury she suffered. But her trauma continued when Ms. Evans had to fight her workers’ compensation claim for years through the Industrial Commission. Valerie Johnson represented her all the way through the North Carolina Court of Appeals and won her benefits for medical treatment, lost wages, and for the permanent damage she suffered.
Certainly, no one expects an injury like the one Cheri Evans suffered, but it is easy to see how alcohol can lead to bad judgment and terrible consequences. Ms. Evans received benefits partly because she was out of town, and the employer’s argument that her attendance at the event was not required was rejected.
Maybe no, even without alcohol: Sometimes the employer can get out of responsibility for work injuries suffered at employer-sponsored events. Take the case of an employee who went to a work “fun day” and was hurt on a go-cart. The North Carolina Supreme Court said that the claim for her neck and back injuries was not covered under North Carolina workers’ compensation because the activities hadn’t benefited the employer. The injured worker received nothing.
Just last month, the NC Court of Appeals denied the claim of another worker who was injured at a work holiday party. The court said her attendance wasn’t required at the party, even though she planned the party and was the emcee at the event.
Nothing spoils the fun like a work-related injury. If you do choose to take part in a party or recreational activity sponsored by your work, take all precautions. Drink responsibly — or not at all. And if you do need answers about your work-related injury, call the experienced specialists at Johnson & Groninger PLLC. Valerie Johnson and Ann Groninger are here to help.