A delightful team-building romp may seem like a great way to build strong relationships and improve employee communication and morale. But as the saying goes, it’s always fun and games until someone gets hurt. And if an employee gets hurt while doing mandatory company activities, well, you just might have a Workers’ Comp claim on your hands.
That’s what happened at the public relations firm Jackson Dawson Communications. A company kickball game turned into a legal conundrum, according to the Associated Press. With his boss’s approval, former employee Stephen Whigham organized a kickball game as a team-building event. Everything seemed to be on track for a whimsical day full of teamwork and good sportsmanship when things took a dark turn. Whigham, who made a valiant effort to avoid being tagged out, ended up shattering two bones in his leg. Though he’s already had two surgeries, he’ll eventually need a knee replacement because of the injury.
He filed a claim for Workers’ Compensation benefits, which was initially denied. But the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled in his favor after it determined he was required to participate in the game as part of his job.
It should go without saying: it’s smart to have Workers’ Compensation Insurance. Most of the time, you have to carry it once you have employees. As this case proves, you never know when it’s going to come in handy.
The Inevitability of Workplace Accidents
Accidents are called “accidents” for a reason. If you could prevent them, you would. So while you can (and should) take every measure to make your workplace as safe as possible, there’s always going to be the chance that one of your employees gets hurt.
For example, a testy Pomeranian who’s not fond of blow dryers could bite a dog groomer. A florist could nick a finger on pruning shears. A wedding photographer may stumble over a flower girl while walking backward to get the perfect angle. For all of these accidents, your business can be held liable for your employees’ medical expenses.
That’s where Workers’ Compensation Insurance can help. This policy protects covers costs related to workplace injuries, including…
- Lost wages.
- Medical bills.
- Legal expenses if you’re sued over the injury.
If an employee brings a lawsuit related to a work injury or illness against your business, you can rely on your Employer’s Liability Insurance to handle your legal defense costs and damages. Most Workers’ Compensation policies include this coverage.
How to Keep a Company Event from Becoming a Work-Injury Hotbed
To keep Workers’ Comp claims at a minimum, be careful when arranging team-building events and other work activities. Here are some ways to reduce your exposures:
- If an event involves physical exertion, make participation voluntary.
- Don’t serve booze at company outings.
- Host the event after work hours and out of the office.
Injuries that happen at work-sanctioned events, like Whigham’s kickball game injury, are a gray area when it comes to Workers’ Comp benefits. As of now, courts make these kinds of decisions on a case-by-case basis. The high court awarded Workers’ Comp benefits to Whigham, and other state courts may follow suit in similar cases.
The Appropriate Insurance Can Be a Game Changer
Workers’ Compensation Insurance coverage for your small business means you won’t be left paying for worker injury costs out of pocket. If you have questions about Workers’ Comp, talk to an insureon agent that specializes in your industry, or submit an online insurance application for free quotes.