According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 2.8 million nonfatal workplace
injuries and illnesses reported in the private industry in 2018. Over 300 thousand of those
required medical attention. Over 900 thousand of all nonfatal injuries caused the employee to
miss work. A common misconception is that if an employee is injured off premises, the injury is
not covered. Another common misconception is there is nothing an employee can do if his
benefits are denied. Both of these are not true. If you have been injured and were denied benefits,
there is recourse: an attorney experienced in personal injury and worker’s compensation. In this
first of our work comp series blog, we discuss the basics of worker’s comp and what types of
injuries work comp covers.
What is Work Comp?
When people hear, “work comp” they usually think of it as a benefit program that is supplied by
an employer to its employee. This is correct. Work Comp is an insurance policy that each
employer must carry as defined in Minnesota statute. The cost of maintaining work comp
insurance is paid by the employer. “Every employer is liable for compensation according to the
provisions of this statute and is liable to pay compensation in every case of personal injury or
death of an employee arising out of and in the course of employment without regard to the
question of negligence.” Minn. Stat. §1763.021 Subp.1. Work Comp is not triggered until an
employee becomes injured during his course of employment. Work comp provides three basic
type of benefits:
1. Wage loss – This benefit pays you when you have missed work due to your qualifying
2. Medical benefits – This benefit pays your medical bills.
3. Vocational rehabilitation benefits – provides assistance to a disabled employee to return
to a job that is compatible with his work restrictions.
Work comp laws are continually changing; however, the applicable law is the law in effect on
the date the employee got injured.
What Injuries Are Covered Under Work Comp?
Any injury that happens in the course of employment while the employee is on the clock is
compensable under work comp. This requirement refers to time, place, and circumstance under
which the injury occurred. Work comp covers an employee while he is “engaged in, on, or about
the premises where the employee’s services require the employee’s presence as a part of that
service at the time of the injury and during the hours of that service.” Minn. Stat. Subd. 16.
This means that a certain type or degree of injury is not required in order for the injury to be
compensable as long as the injury resulted in a loss for the employee.
Coverage Off Employer Premises
In general, the employee needs to be on the employer’s property and on the clock when the
injury occurred to make it compensable. However, there are exceptions to this employer
premises requirement, and work comp coverage can extend to cover:
Traveling Employees – A traveling employee is covered from portal to portal. For
example, a construction worker is covered when he is driving from one job site to a new
Regularly Furnished Transportation – If the employer regularly furnishes transportation
to employee to and from his job, then the injury is covered.
Running special errands – When the employer asks and employee to run an errand
outside of the employee’s normal work, such as picking up supplies for the company
picnic. An injury while running a special errand is covered.
Dual purposes – This is doing a work-related task while also doing a personal task. For
example, an employee is at Target to purchase school supplies for herself but at the same
time she is also purchasing items for the office. If the employee gets injured at Target,
she is still covered.
Ingress/Egress – Injuries on an employer owned, maintained, or controlled by the
Special Hazard – This exception is applicable only if the employee is exposed to a hazard
which originates on the employment premises, is a part of the working environment, or if
it peculiarly exposes the employee to an external hazard which subjects the employee to a
greater personal risk than one has when pursuing ordinary personal affairs. For example,
if the only place the employee can park is across a busy street and light rail, then the risk
of that busy street and light rail may be found to be part of the employment, even if the
employee is crossing a public street.
Required recreational activities
Any injuries that happens while seeking medical or rehab services after a work comp
Consequential injuries – An injury is consequential, and therefore covered, if it arises
from a permanently weakened condition that was initially caused by a work-related
injury. For example, an employee injures a knee at work, two days later, the employee
gets in a car accident because he was not able to properly apply the brakes due to his knee
injury. The new injury sustained from the car accident would also be compensable under
work comp. In other words, if the initial injury is covered by work comp, then any other
injuries arising from that weakened condition is also covered.
While each case is examined on a case-by-case basis, and the totality of the facts and
circumstances must be evaluated to see if they meet these exceptions, Minnesota work comp will
extend coverage to employees who are injured off the employer’s premises if they meet any of
the criteria above.
Work Comp Attorney
Thooft Law is a recognized and well-known personal injury and work comp firm. We have
experience in North Dakota and Minnesota. If you have been injured at work or during the
course of employment give us a call for a free consultation at 651-364-7725 or e-mail us at