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Off-the-Clock Injuries

When you are injured at work, workers’ compensation will cover the costs of your injury, medical expenses, ongoing treatment, associated costs and even your time off while you are recuperating. Workers’ compensation is designed to cover any injury sustained while you’re working — but what happens when you suffer an injury after you’ve already clocked out or before your shift?

In such cases, workers’ compensation gets a little tricky. An employer is responsible for ensuring the safety of his or her workers as they perform their duties. This responsibility is extended to any circumstance under the scope of a worker’s employment, meaning any time the worker is on the job or clocked in.

For some employers, this timeframe is fairly simple to regulate from the time an employee clocks in at the start of a shift to the time he or she clocks out at the end of the day. But in other cases, determining when an employee is officially working is not that easy.

In many states, workers’ compensation cases use the logic that when an employee is performing his or her duties or performing an activity related to that job, any injury sustained during that time can be considered eligible for compensation from the employer.

Colorado Standards

In Colorado, a workers’ compensation case must be considered against the following criteria:

  • Is the injured worker performing services for his or her employer?
  • Is the service performed within the scope of the employee’s contract or employment agreement?
  • Does the service performed directly or indirectly benefit the employer?

The standard for work travel as it relates to compensable injuries was set in Madden v. Mountain West Fabricator, a 1999 Colorado Supreme Court. In that case, the state Supreme Court ruled that, generally speaking, traveling to and from work is not covered under workers’ compensation laws because injuries are not considered to be the result of workplace actions and duties.

However, the judges allowed for exceptions to this general rule, including cases in which there is a connection between a person’s employment and the injury that was sustained during the commute to or from work.

Additionally, the state Supreme Court recognized the appellate court’s explanation of traveling times that should still be considered to be during the scope of working hours or employment:

  • When an employee is traveling to perform part of his or her job
  • During business trips for the employer
  • When an employee reports to his typical workplace and is sent out on an errand or task
  • If the employee’s contract specifies that the commute to and from the office is covered underemployment

Call Your Attorney

Even if you are clocked out for the day or on your way out of the office, your injury may still be covered under Colorado’s laws. A Denver workers’ compensation lawyer will be able to work with you to decide whether your injuries were sustained as a result of a work-related action or incident and can properly advise you how to proceed. To discuss your case, contact an attorney at Levine Law today.

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