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Too Much Fun at Your Company Christmas Party?

December 19, 2016

Tis the season for fun, good cheer, and that upcoming annual company Christmas party. Employees look forward to it every year – it’s a time to relax, have a laugh about funny things that happened throughout the year, and celebrate company achievements. As much as we’d like to think these events run smoothly, sometimes end of the year work parties can get a little out of control. So, what happens when you or someone else gets hurt at your work holiday party?

Will I Still Receive Workers’ Compensation?

This is a very tricky question to answer because it depends on many variables. The easiest situation to answer is in cases where your employer’s liability extends to work functions. If it does, you’ll be covered by workers’ compensation. There’s also a greater chance you’ll receive workers’ compensation if you’re injured at a holiday party that’s considered mandatory by your employer. After that, it gets a little more complicated. When an employee is injured, or even passes away, courts must decide whether the accident at a company event arose “out of and in the course of employment.”

For example, say a company Christmas party generated a fight between two drunk employees. Courts may rule that because the employer supplied the alcohol, entertainment, and venue for the party, the alcohol motivated the fight and the employer is therefore liable. In another example, say an employee passes away due to alcohol poisoning after challenging another fellow worker to a drinking contest. Courts may rule that because the employee voluntarily drank excessively, the death is not related to the employer and workers’ compensation should not be provided.

What happens if there’s an accident after leaving the party?

This answer also depends on different situations. If an employee chooses to leave the function and make his or her way to other parties, restaurants, bars, etc., coverage doesn’t follow. Workers’ compensation also doesn’t cover any illegal or unsafe behavior employees may participate in, whether before, during, or after a company party. If an employee is ready to go home, but has been drinking and decides to drive despite the employer insisting on a designated driver, any potential vehicle accidents will not be covered under workers’ compensation. But, if your company Christmas party is mandatory, and you’re involved in a vehicle accident while driving to or from the party, you have a higher chance of receiving workers’ compensation because you had to attend.

We know accidents happen, even if it’s during an innocent, yet entertaining company holiday party. We also know that when it comes to workers’ compensation, the process can be complicated, confusing, and very stressful. If you’re being denied benefits and believe you should be getting compensated, our workers’ comp lawyers want to talk to you. Get in touch with us today so we can get started on your case. The holiday season is meant to be a joyous time – let us handle your legal dilemma so you can get back to enjoying your friends, family, and holiday spirit.