A serious injury can keep you from working for a long time, leaving you without a paycheck while also leaving you with a growing pile of medical bills and other expenses. When the injury that is keeping you off the job happened on the job, Texas’ workers’ compensation system can provide you with benefits and resources that can help get you back on your feet and back to work. While workers comp benefits won’t cover everything, they can give you the help you need without having to go through the lengthy and uncertain process of a civil personal injury lawsuit.
But the companies that provide workers’ compensation insurance to Texas employers can and often do challenge an injured worker’s right to receive benefits. One way they do that is by claiming that the injury was not “work-related” and therefore not covered by workers’ comp.
It’s not always so clear whether or not an injury was “work-related.” Our jobs can take us away from our desks or out of the factory or warehouse; we may be visiting a customer, driving on company business, or attending a firm social event. If you’re injured while engaging in these kinds of activities, are you entitled to benefits under Texas’ workers’ compensation law?
“In the Course and Scope of Employment…”
Under the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act, a “compensable injury” that can qualify for benefits means “an injury that arises out of and in the course and scope of employment…” (Texas Labor Code Sec. 401.011(10)).
The Act defines “course and scope of employment” as:
“an activity of any kind or character that has to do with and originates in the work, business, trade, or profession of the employer and that is performed by an employee while engaged in or about the furtherance of the affairs or business of the employer. The term includes an activity conducted on the premises of the employer or at other locations”
Texas Labor Code Sec. 401.011(10)
Are Injuries Suffered While Commuting Covered?
While this definition explicitly includes injuries that occur pretty much anywhere you are doing your job, the statute also specifically excludes injuries that happen on the way to or from work. If you are injured while commuting on the way to work or on the way home, your injuries will not be covered, unless:
- the transportation that gets you to or from work is furnished as a part of the contract of employment or is paid for by the employer;
- the means of the transportation are under the control of the employer; or
- you are directed by your employer to proceed from one place to another place (other than to and from home).
Also excluded from coverage are injuries that happen during “dual purpose” travel, that is, “travel by the employee in the furtherance of the affairs or business of the employer if the travel is also in furtherance of personal or private affairs of the employee.”
However, if the travel to the place of occurrence of the injury would have been made even had there been no personal or private affairs of the employee to be furthered by the travel and the travel would not have been made had there been no affairs or business of the employer to be furthered by the travel, those injuries can qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.
Whether a work injury was in fact a work injury is just one of the many issues that arise out of on-the-job accidents. Even if your injury is compensable under Texas’ workers’ compensation law, you still may be entitled to seek damages from third-parties other than your employer if their negligence contributed to or caused your injuries.
Dallas personal injury lawyer Robert Greening has been defending the rights of injured Texas workers for decades and has helped many victims injured or killed by unsafe working conditions receive compensation for themselves and/or their families. If you’ve suffered an on-the-job injury, please give Greening Law, P.C. a call at (972) 934-8900 or fill out our online form to arrange for your free initial consultation.