‘Tis the season for your company to show how much they appreciate all the blood, sweat and tears you have poured into your job over the past twelve months. From cash bonuses to a free ham or turkey, no matter what you get as a holiday “thank you” the majority of firms will also serve a holiday meal, allow each department to plan their own function or arrange a companywide get-together outside the office.
South Carolina has very well-defined laws on the books concerning workers’ compensation rights when an employee is injured while on the clock but away from their primary jobsite, e.g., delivery drivers and repairmen, construction workers and home health care aides. These regulations also apply to work sponsored functions such as off-site training, a company retreat or awards banquet. But the law is a bit murkier when it comes to holiday parties, company picnics and charity events such as golf outings. Plus, many of these types of events also include alcohol being served which often creates additional legal ambiguity.
The first step which must be determined is whether or not the event was actually compulsory. In the case of a potential workers’ compensation claim due to an injury received at a company sponsored holiday event, chances are your employer will do their best to show attendance was voluntary. Generally if an injury occurred where attendance was required then it becomes classified as work related, allowing it to be covered under South Carolina workers’ compensation. This is where Dan Pruitt and his team of accomplished legal professionals shine. They have the expertise to determine if the event truly was voluntary or if all employees were expected to attend even though the email, invitation, flyer etc., wasn’t worded as such.
Next we will determine the level of involvement by your employer and the other employees. Did your employer finance the majority of the cost of the party? Were bonuses and awards handed out? And did you have to be present in order to receive either or both? Then, and this is a major factor, did the employees consider attending the event to be beneficial to their continued employment? If it can be proven that an employee’s attendance was “logically related to his employment,” it can be argued there were enough business related activities involved that the party was for all practical purposes, work related, regardless of whether attendance was technically mandatory.
Because liability has become such an issue many firms now have in place written guidelines concerning company sponsored events, including waivers which must be signed by both the employee and their guests releasing the employer from any responsibility if an accident or injury occurs. If an injury did occur after this type of document was signed, then you definitely need to contact Dan Pruitt Law Firm as soon as possible to discuss the legality and validity of the forms you signed.
Finally, another reason to call us at 864-232-4273 is because even if you don’t believe you have a valid workers’ compensation claim, there is a chance that your company’s liability insurance may cover off-site events. Then in some cases, the event venue themselves could be required by their liability insurance company to add your employer onto their policy under a special rider for the duration of the event.
Obviously, this is very technical topic that requires an expert in the field of workers’ compensation and personal injury law. The Dan Pruitt Law Firm takes pride in leaving no stone unturned when it comes to ensuring your legal rights are met. Please contact us today for a free consultation.