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Workers Compensation

Workers Compensation Newsletters

Assaults

A worker's injury that results from an assault is not compensable unless the assault arises out of his employment. The employment connection is satisfied if it is shown that the type of work or the setting in which it is performed increased the worker's risk of assault. For example, occupations that may carry a higher risk of assault due to their very nature are police officer, prison guard, and security guard, to name a few. Further, employees who work in a dangerous area of a city or who work at night may also be at an increased risk for assault.

Determining "Dependency" for Workers Compensation Death Benefits

The issue of "dependency," with respect to the receipt of workers compensation death benefits, is generally determined either as of the date of the worker's death or the date of the accident that caused his death. Those individuals who are, therefore, "dependents" on the requisite date will be eligible to receive death benefits in an amount commensurate with the measure of dependency on the worker, i.e. total or partial dependency.

Employee Misconduct That Does and Does Not Deviate From Employment

When an employee engages in misconduct, his receipt of workers compensation benefits can be jeopardized depending on whether such misconduct constituted a deviation from his course of employment. If the employee has deviated from the course of employment, and is then injured, he will generally be denied benefits. Prohibited conduct is a marker for misconduct. It is only that prohibited conduct concerning the employee's fundamental job for which he was employed that will affect compensation eligibility. Even though prohibited, conduct that merely violates the way or means that an employee uses to accomplish his job duties is still within the course of his employment.

Non-Business Exemptions

The workers compensation system was designed to provide benefits to those employees who are injured in the course of employment. However, not all "employments" are considered to be within the contemplation of the system. By way of contrast, consider the factory worker who cuts his hand while working on an assembly line making car parts for the employer and the teenage boy who cuts his hand trimming hedges for his neighbor. Both the factory worker and the teenage boy were "employed" to perform a service for another. However, workers' compensation would only be applicable to the factory worker's injury. Other examples where resulting injuries would likely not qualify for workers' compensation, even though the individuals were paid for their services, include a housecleaner hired to perform a one-time spring-cleaning on your home, a babysitter who cares for a young child on a weekend evening, and a mechanic friend who helps to fix a broken vehicle.

"Substantial Gainful Activity" for Social Security Disability Determination

To be declared "disabled" for social security disability purposes, the individual must not be able to engage in any substantial gainful activity. "Substantial gainful activity" is a term of art used by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to mean doing significant physical or mental activity for pay or profit. An individual's work can still be substantial even though it is engaged in less than full-time. The SSA does not normally consider activities such as household chores, hobbies, school attendance, or participation in social programs or clubs to be substantial gainful activity.