How To Determine If Your Minnesota Injury Is Work Related

How To Determine If Your Injury Is Work Related

In today’s news of “my day at work could have been worse”, be glad you’re not the Alabama logger who saw a snake on the road while riding in a logging truck at work. After the man jumped out and attempted to catch the snake, it bit him—and turned out to be poisonous! Unfortunately, because catching the snake was not part of his employment, the man’s injury was not compensable under the state’s workers’ compensation scheme.

As in Alabama, Minnesota law requires that an injury happen in the course of employment in order for you to be able to recover workers’ compensation benefits. Because determining whether an injury happened in the course of employment is such a fact-specific question, looking at a few examples is perhaps the easiest way to get an idea of whether a court would find that your injury was work-related.

First, it should be noted that within the broader issue of whether an injury happened in the course of work, there are several sub-categories of issues. An injury can be found to be not in the course of employment because, for example, (a) it happened outside the time allotted for employment, (b) it happened outside the geographical location of work, or (c) it was the result of conduct that wasn’t an employment duty. In the case of the Alabama logger, (c) would have been applicable.

Cases involving a timing issue

Yes, the injury happened in the course of employment:

  • A cook employed by a boarding house fell while investigating suspicious noises on the premises. The accident occurred during the cook’s off hours. However, the cook was still providing a service to the employer at the time of the accident even if it wasn’t her official timeclock hours.

No, the injury was not in the course of employment:

  • An employee works away from home for a week. Several hours after completion of the week’s work, he drives home for the weekend. The specified hours for work had ended and the employee was no longer performing any services for the employer.

Cases involving a location issue

Yes, the injury happened in the course of employment:

  • An injury that happens while the employee is participating in an offsite recreational program, IF the employee’s participation was required by the employer.

No, the injury was not in the course of employment:

  • A construction worker was working away from home and staying at a motel. One evening, after work, the worker went to a social dinner and then was driving back to his motel when he was injured in an accident. Driving to and from work is usually considered to be part of employment. However, because the dinner was a social function and nothing to do with employment, the drive from the dinner back to the motel was not in the course of employment.

Cases involving a conduct issue:

Yes, the injury was in the course of employment:

  • Several cases involving smoke breaks and restroom breaks. These are considered necessary to comfort while at work and thus are part of employment.

No, the injury was not in the course of employment:

  • A tree-clearing company employee attempted to top a dangerous tree that the company had specifically prohibited from topping. The employee had been informed only hours before that he should not do anything with the tree and that a qualified tree climber would be along shortly. A delay in dealing with the tree was not a problem for the company.

 

Roko Law

 

 

 

Christopher Rosengren
Rosengren, Kohlmeyer & Hagen Law Office Chtd.
507.625.5000
rokolaw.com