You were at your company’s holiday party. The star on the top of the Christmas tree fell off, so, in the Christmas spirit, you got up on a chair to put it back on. You slipped and fell off the chair at an awkward ankle, breaking your leg. Can you get workers’ compensation for that injury?
It depends on a number of factors. The injury may be considered work-related and eligible for workers’ compensation if one or more of the following was true for the event:
- Employees were expected or required to attend.
- The event was during work hours or employees were paid for the time they were there.
- Awards (like “Employee of the Year”) or bonuses were announced or given out.
- The event was held on the business’s premises, and the accident resulted from an unsafe condition that the employer should have fixed.
Businesses are increasingly concerned about their liability for things that happen at holiday parties. This includes not just injuries, but sexual assault and violence. Often, alcohol is involved. That’s why many companies are having their holiday parties at restaurants and other venues and not paying for unlimited (or any) alcoholic beverages.
If you were injured at a holiday party held at a local restaurant because you slipped on some wine spilled on the floor, you may not be eligible for workers’ comp. That’s more likely to be the case if the event was purely a social one, with employees able to bring guests, no one was pressured or “expected” to attend and you wouldn’t miss out on any important company announcements by not being there.
If your holiday event injury requires medical treatment and possibly some time off of work, and your employer is telling you that you don’t qualify for workers’ comp, it may be wise to consult with an attorney. They can advise you, based on your specific circumstances, whether you have a right to seek compensation and from whom.