worker with injured handWorkers’ comp is an insurance program that covers any work-related injury or occupational illness, regardless of how it happened—with a few exceptions. If you were injured in a fight at work or while playing softball with co-workers, for example, you might be told that you can’t file for workers’ comp. However, there are always exceptions to these rules, which is why it’s important you talk to an Ohio workers’ comp attorney before accepting your employer’s assessment of the situation.

Exceptions to Ohio Workers’ Comp Exceptions

Because worker’s comp is a no-fault system, it doesn’t matter whether your own mistake or an employer’s oversight caused your accident—either way, you would be covered. However, this is only true if you were engaged in work duties at the time of the injury, so it is to your employer’s advantage to claim you were not doing what you were supposed to be doing when you were hurt. If you were playing around or off-task, your injury claim would be disputed. However, that doesn’t mean your claim is dead. Sometimes, there are exceptions that a lawyer can help you overcome. For example:

  • Fights or horseplay. Fights and horseplay are considered non-work-related activities and would be excluded from workers’ comp. However, if you did not instigate the fight or the fight was not over a personal issue that carried over to the workplace, you may still be covered.
  • Intoxication. If you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs while at work and injured yourself, your employer will argue that you are ineligible for workers’ comp, even if you were doing work tasks. But if it can be shown that the accident would have happened regardless of the alcohol or drug use, you could be covered.
  • Recreational activities. Many companies have team-building activities like softball teams and off-site recreation, and if you are injured while you are participating and cannot work because of it, you will likely be told not to file for workers’ comp. However, unless you signed a waiver before participating, you probably are eligible for comp.
  • Breaking company rules. An employer might claim you were not following company rules or disregarding safety policies at the time of your injury, but this is not always a legal barrier to workers’ comp.

The point is, these arguments might defeat a claim, but there are often exceptions. That is why it is helpful to contact a workers’ comp attorney if you find yourself in such a situation.

Other Types of Injuries That Are Sometimes Exempt From Workers’ Comp

Aside from engaging in questionable activities, other types of incidents fall into gray areas. These include:

  • Traveling to or from work. Under the coming and going rule, if you are hurt in a car accident on the way to or from your workplace, you would not be covered. However, if your job requires you to travel during the day and you are paid for the time you are en route, then injuries sustained in a car accident would be covered.
  • Emotional or mental trauma. Needing psychological treatment and time off work for emotional trauma suffered at work is not covered under Ohio workers’ comp. However, if you suffer emotional trauma as a direct result of a physical workplace injury, your treatment might be covered.
  • Common illnesses. Colds, influenza, headaches, and other common, one-time illnesses are not covered by workers’ comp. In addition, ordinary diseases of life such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension are not covered unless it can be proven that the illness arose from exposure to a toxin in the workplace.

These situations aren’t always clear-cut. If you think your travel injury or illness is work-related and should be covered, contact an attorney for more information.

When Do You Need a Lawyer?

If you have read this information and think your injury or illness should be covered despite what your employer has told you, contact Monast Law Office to get your specific questions answered. We will take on the tough cases, and we want to hear your story. Learn more by requesting a free copy of our book, The Worker’s Guide to Injury Compensation in Ohio, then fill out our online contact form or call our Upper Arlington office at 614-334-4649 to get started.

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James Monast
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Board-Certified Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Columbus, Ohio