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How do detours and frolics impact workplace injury claims?

Workers compensation policies are designed to provide compensation and coverage for individuals who are injured during the course of employment-related duties or while at a workplace. What some individuals don't realize is that just because an injury occurs while you are on a employer's property, using employer equipment or on employer time doesn't necessarily mean the accident will be deemed a workplace injury.

In some minority of workplace injury cases, it might be found that the employer is not liable for injuries if it is shown that the employee was acting substantially outside of requirements, instructions or expectations for a job. For example, if an employee willfully neglects rules or safety requirements on the job or is using equipment for his or her own personal purposes, then a compensation claim might be denied.

Cases where a claim might be denied fall into two major categories: detours and frolics. A detour occurs when an employee deviates substantially from instructions explicitly provided by an employer. It's often hard for an employer to prove that a detour existed, since the employee is usually conducting some type of job duties when the injury occurs. One example might be explicit training that says a certain machine can only handle a 50-pound load. If an employee knowingly burdens the machine with a 100-pound load against explicit instructions not to do so, a detour might have occurred.

A frolic occurs when an employee is not engaged in job functions but is using employer equipment. For example, an employee who drives a company car is not going to be considered injured on the job if he or she is injured in an accident while going out to dinner with family.

Following employer rules and instructions and maintaining safety measures helps ensure that you are covered if you are injured on the job. If an employer claims an injury occurred during detour or frolic, you still have legal rights to pursue compensation and present your case for the injury being work related.

Source: Intuit, "Dealing With Workplace Accidents," Megan Sullivan, accessed Dec. 16, 2015

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