How to Determine if Your Injury or Illness is Work-Related

In order to be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, you need to show that your illness or injury is “work-related.” Most of the time, it is easy to make this determination because if you were doing something that benefits your employer when you were injured or became ill, it will be considered to be work-related and you will be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. However, there are some cases where it is not so clear-cut.

Lunch breaks — Usually, injuries or illnesses that occur during an employee’s lunch break are not covered by workers’ compensation. So, if you tripped and fell while walking into a restaurant to pick up lunch, you probably cannot recover workers’ compensation for that injury. However, if you were injured while picking up lunch for your boss or injured at the company cafeteria, then you might be covered.

Travel — If you are injured while commuting to work, your injury probably will not be covered by workers’ compensation. However, if you were driving a company car, you might have an argument that the injury was “work-related.” Further, if you are injured while on a business trip or as a salesperson on your way to meet a client, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation.

Company events — Injuries sustained at a company picnic or party will usually be covered by workers’ compensation. If you throw your back out while pitching horseshoes at the company picnic, workers’ compensation will most likely cover you.

Employee misconduct — If you were injured due to your own recklessness, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation but eligibility will depend upon the level of your misconduct.

Preexisting conditions — Even if you have a preexisting condition, if your job aggravates your condition and causes illness or injury, you might be covered under workers’ compensation.

Illnesses — If you have an illness or disease resulting from your work, you can recover workers’ compensation. However, it may be difficult to prove that a disease is work-related.

If you are uncertain whether your illness or injury is work-related, consult with a knowledgeable New Jersey workers’ compensation lawyer to determine whether you are eligible for benefits.