Can You Receive Workers Compensation For Partying?

The office holiday party can be the high point of your year -- especially if it involves the receipt of an annual bonus. But what happens if you're injured at (or while leaving) a holiday party hosted by your employer? Will your workers compensation cover this injury even if it did not occur on company property? Read on to learn more about how workers compensation applies to out-of-the-office injuries.

Does workers compensation cover out-of-office injuries?

Workers compensation is a type of insurance, paid by your employer, that is intended to help cover any medical expenses incurred due to a workplace accident. However, there are a number of grey areas when it comes to workers compensation -- and one of these involves workplace gatherings that take place outside of the office or after normal working hours.

Although some states do permit workers compensation claims for mandatory gatherings that are held in a location other than the employer's headquarters, many states -- including a recently publicized case from Pennsylvania -- will no longer provide broad coverage for workplace events that aren't strictly mandated. In the Pennsylvania case, both the state workers compensation board and a state court determined that because a workplace event was optional (employees even had to use paid time off to attend the event) an employee who was injured by falling down icy stairs while leaving the event could not recover her expenses from workers compensation.

In many states, the determination of whether an injury is covered by workers compensation hinges on the mandatory nature of the event. For campaign fundraisers, rallies, and other after-hours events at which employees' participation is required, workers compensation likely covers any injuries. However, for holiday parties and other morale-boosting events that are not mandatory (and for which employees are not paid), workers compensation is unlikely to apply.

What can you do if you are injured at a workplace gathering after-hours?

If you're injured at an office party or other event that was not mandatory, it is unlikely that you'll be able to receive payment for your medical expenses under workers compensation. However, you may still have other options.

If the party or gathering was held at a private residence, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the owner. If you were injured in a public area or on municipal property, you may have a lawsuit against the business owner or city. In either event, you'll need to prove that the owner was negligent or allowed an unsafe condition to persist. You should consult a personal injury attorney, such as at, to determine what rights you have under state law.