What Does in the “Course of Employment” Mean?

July 11, 2017

To be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits in Philadelphia, an employee’s injury must have occurred during the “course of employment.” This is an official legal phrase that determines whether or not the employee was actually working during the time of his or her work accident. Its application is broader than you might think.

When am I considered to be in the course of employment?

According to PA case law, “in the course of employment” means the employee got hurt while engaging in the “furtherance of the employer’s business or affairs.” Basically, it means, when you were injured, that you were performing tasks related to your job or were somehow participating in business-related activities.

Obvious applications of the law would be when you are:

  • Putting up drywall at a construction site
  • Sitting at your office desk, responding to emails
  • Making a delivery
  • Restocking a warehouse

Situations that are a little out of the box, but still generally covered, include:

  • While you are on company premises, even if you have not “clocked in” yet
  • While you are out on a business lunch with your boss and/or clients
  • While you are in your employer’s parking lot or common areas of an office building
  • While on a company outing off-premises
  • While on a business trip off-premises
  • While on a business trip out-of-state

Broadly speaking, as long as the nature of your accident is reasonably connected to the workplace, you should be covered under workers’ compensation. This includes incidents that occur in an actual office location or those that happen on the road, job site, or other setting connected to your job.

What doesn’t count?

Being injured under these circumstances might not be covered:

  • While commuting to work (providing you are not driving a work-provided vehicle)
  • Being under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Engaging in an illegal act, such as physical fighting
  • Leaving the employer’s premises for lunch

Every case is unique. If your employer is giving you a hard time about obtaining benefits, consulting a lawyer can help determine whether or not your injury qualifies for compensation.

Larry Pitt & Associates houses a team of knowledgeable, passionate Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyers. We fight back against employers who unjustly deny their employees their legal rights. To set up a consultation, fill out our contact form or call 888.PITT.LAW. Our attorneys help clients throughout Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia Counties.