Am I Covered If I Get Hurt at an Employer Sponsored Event?

businessman falling in the streetAccording to a recent South Carolina Supreme Court ruling, one injured worker received benefits from workers’ compensation outside of what some would consider in the course of employment. In this unique case, Stephen Whigham, an employee of a public relations firm, gained workmans comp benefits after he suffered a serious leg injury while playing kickball. After his boss asked for suggestions on how to develop a more enjoyable workplace atmosphere, Whigham proposed a company kickball game. Liking the idea, Whigham’s boss told him to move forward with organizing the game.

It initially seemed like the kickball game was a success, with more than half of the employees at the firm attending. However, after an awkward landing on his right leg running the bases, Whigham shattered both his tibia and fibula—an injury that required two surgeries, knee replacement and a battle before the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission for workers’ comp benefits.

What Does Scope of Employment Mean?

The first workers’ comp commissioner who reviewed Whigham’s case denied his claim. The commissioner ruled that because Whigham was not required to attend the kickball game, his injury did not occur during the scope of his employment. The full workers’ comp commission in South Carolina later affirmed this decision.

However, Whigham appealed his claim again, but this time he appealed to the Supreme Court. He argued that because his boss put him in charge of organizing the kickball game, it meant he was also required to attend.

Testimony given from Whigham and his boss demonstrated that, in fact, his participation in the game was expected rather than voluntary. As applied to the definition of scope of employment, Whigham organizing and attending the event fell under his employment duties, and therefore, his attendance became a part of his professional job role, and the injuries he sustained were covered under workers’ compensation.

Does I Need a Lawyer For A Workers’ Comp Claim?

Seeking benefits from workers’ comp can be complex, especially if the claim receives a denial. For information about your ability to appeal a workers’ compensation denial, and to learn if attorney representation can help you gain your deserved benefits, our injury law firm offers free case discussions where you can receive advice from a qualified attorney. You can also follow the firm on Facebook or Google+ to keep up with the latest South Carolina legal news.

[Did You Know: Appealing a SC workers comp denial? There are four levels–Commissioner, Commission Review, Court of Appeals and Supreme Court.]

Proffitt & Cox, LLP – Columbia Workers Comp Attorneys


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