Two men and two women in office attire huddled in a circle smiling before.

What to do if You’re Injured at an Office Party

Americans spend most of their day at work. So, it comes as no surprise that employers place great importance on building comradery among their team. From company-sponsored holiday parties and team-building activities to after-work happy hours, these social gatherings can be fun and productive. But, they can also introduce a new host of considerations when filing a lawsuit after someone becomes injured.

Is an office party injury covered under worker’s compensation?

Can I file a lawsuit against the venue and file a worker’s compensation claim?

What if the injury occurred while I was driving home from or on the way to the event?

Does the consumption of alcohol eliminate my ability to file a claim?

The answers to these great questions can change depending on the facts of the case. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you navigate your options. The following are factors that can affect the remedies available to you.

The Event is Part of the Job

According to Missouri and Illinois laws, anyone who is injured while on the job is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits – regardless of the fault of the employer. When the injury happens outside of the office, such as at a team building outing or office dinner, then the first question to answer is, “Was the event considered part of the job?” Should the event meet any of the criteria below, then there is a good chance you may have a workers’ compensation claim:

  • Attendance at the event was required or expected.
  • Company funds were used to pay for the outing.
  • Employees were compensated by the company for attending the event.
  • The activity took place during normal office hours.
  • Business was conducted at the event that wouldn’t have happened elsewhere, such as handing out awards.
  • The employer hosted the event at the office.

While the examples stated above can provide a foundation for filing a claim, the list is neither exhaustive nor a guarantee. Contact an attorney specializing in workers’ compensation law if you believe your injury qualifies for benefits.

Injury is Caused by Third-Party Negligence

When an injury occurs at an office party or activity hosted at a third-party venue, it can potentially bring forth the option of a third party claim. Regardless of the viability of a workers’ compensation claim, if the negligence of a third party, such as the venue, vendor or passersby, caused the injury, then you might be able to file a premises liability or product liability lawsuit against that person or company. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • The venue did not shovel or salt their sidewalk and you slipped on ice.
  • A DJ did not properly secure electrical wires that you tripped over.
  • The company managing an activity, such as a go-kart facility or trampoline park, knowingly didn’t fix broken or faulty equipment that caused you to be injured.

It is important to note that under Illinois and Missouri subrogation statutes, if the employee receives worker’s compensation benefits and then receives a settlement for the third party case, they employer may have a right to be paid back for a portion of the workers’ compensation benefits previously paid.

A Car Accident Traveling to, From or During the Office Event 

Generally speaking, injuries sustained in an automobile accident while traveling from the employee’s home to work or while driving from work to home are not covered under workers’ compensation laws. Traveling to and from an office party would follow the same notion unless the collision took place during a time that could be considered part of your job duties. A few exceptions might include:

  • It was your responsibility to set up the event and you were transporting supplies.
  • There was a request for designated or sober drivers to take home co-workers and you volunteered.
  • The activity was a scavenger hunt that required you to drive to multiple places.

In the event a car accident occurred during your travel to or from the party, normal auto accident procedures would still apply. Furthermore, if someone driving another vehicle is at fault for the accident that caused your injuries, you can file a claim against that person, or his or her insurance company.

When Alcohol is Involved in an Office Party Injury

The availability of alcohol at office holiday parties and work dinners can increase the risk of drunk driving, sexual harassment, aggressive behavior and falls. In some cases, the decision to consume alcohol may reduce the amount of your recovery in a personal injury claim – especially if alcohol played the primary factor in the cause of the injury. But just because you consumed alcohol, does not mean you are barred from filing a claim.  The following are a list of examples where claims would be appropriate:

  • Parties where drinking games and alcohol are the focus of the work event.
  • Third-party vendors were hired to serve the alcohol and failed to monitor consumption by continuing to serve you while visibly intoxicated.
  • A co-worker or employer sexually harassed you or made uncomfortable advances while you were drinking alcohol.

Consuming alcohol can impair one’s judgment, which is why it’s always recommended to enjoy alcoholic beverages responsibly.

Finding an Attorney to Represent Your Office Party Injury Claim

The circumstances that lead up to an injury at an office party or team-building activity can have a drastic influence on the types of remedies that are available. Seeking the advice of an experienced personal injury attorney can be a great first step in determining if you can file a lawsuit to recover damages for that injury.

At Padberg, Corrigan & Appelbaum, our attorneys have represented thousands of clients in Missouri and Illinois who have been injured while on the job. Based in St. Louis, Missouri, our team can help you navigate the laws and determine if you have a case. Contact us today for a free and confidential consultation.