Accidents While the Employees are Engaged in their Own Affairs
General speaking, the employee who abandons his or her work, with or without permission, for the purpose of attending to his or her personal business, is not acting within the course of the employee's employment, and is thus not covered by workers compensation.
Exceptions to this general rule include rest periods, certain lunch breaks, and stand-by periods.
But the employee who leaves his work for his own affairs has separated himself or herself from his or her employment for the time being and is not entitled to compensation if the employee is injured.
Examples where an employee would not be covered because the employee is engaged in his or her own affairs include:
- The employee who was electrocuted while using his employer's electric blower at his residence on Sunday for general yard clean-up;
- The employee who made two “business” telephone calls during a day-long adventure in New Orleans with his wife and another couple, which included a visit to the race track, stores and a restaurant;
- The employee who, although using an employer's vehicle, was injured while merely outside a bar trying to get it started; and
- The employee who deviated from with work travel to his home for the alleged purpose of looking for his driver's license.
Sometimes, Louisiana workers compensation courts do award benefits to employees whose injuries result from personal-purpose conduct. Mostly, these awards are the result of:
- Specific orders from the employer regarding the employee's personal-purpose conduct;
- An employer's tolerance of the employee's personal-purpose conduct during work hours; or
- An employer's benefit from the employee's personal-purpose conduct.
Thus, Louisiana workers compensation courts will likely award benefits if the employer authorizes the employee to engage in personal work and there is some employer benefit from the conduct.
Also, this authorization could be clear and express, but it could also simply be implied from other circumstances.
Sometimes the personal affairs in which the employee will be engaged will be frivolous, amounting to horseplay.
The Louisiana Workers Compensation Act holds that if the injured employee “was engaged in horseplay at the time of the injury,” his or her injury “should not be considered as having arisen out of the employment,” and therefore is not covered by workers compensation.
In other words, if an employee is injured while engaged in horseplay, then this employee's injuries will not be covered by workers compensation in Louisiana.
Personal Disputes and Assault
The Louisiana Workers Compensation Act holds that if the injured employee's injury "arose out of a dispute with another person or employee over matters unrelated to the injured employee's employment," then his or her injury “should not be considered as having arisen out of the employment,” and therefore is not covered by workers compensation.
This basically means that some injuries from physical assaults at work are covered by workers compensation, and some injuries from physical assaults at work are not covered by workers compensation.
Whether injuries from physical assaults at work are covered by workers compensation all depends on whether the dispute arose out of the employment.
In other words, did the fight begin over something related to the job? Or did the fight begin over something separate and unrelated to the job?
If the fight is personal, then it is not covered under workers compensation. If the fight is business (or at least started over business), then it is not covered under workers compensation.
Accidents While the Employees are Assisting Third Persons Not Associated with the Employer
The employee who assists or helps out a third person not associated with the employer will only be covered under Louisiana workers compensation if the task that the employee was performing for the third party was "within the line of duty to his employer."
Examples of when a task for a third party is "within the line of duty to his employer" include:
- An employee who was injured when he stopped on land adjoining his work premises to cut a limb for the adjoining landowner;
- An employee hired to install siding who was injured while assisting in unloading a truck delivering material sold to the employer; and
- An employee, an automobile salesman, who was injured while he was attempting to close a deal with a customer by volunteering to accompany the customer to visit a relative in order to borrow money from the relative.
Of course, determining whether a task for a third party is "within the line of duty to his employer" will be highly based on the specific facts of each case.
And fortunately, the employee is often given the benefit of the doubt in these matters.