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Course of Employment


As set forth inworkers' compensationacts, the time, place, and conditions under which an on-the-job accident occurs. The performance of an act that an employee might prudently do while in the appropriate area during working hours.

In the event that an employee causes an injury to another or another's property, it is necessary to ascertain whether the employee was acting within the course of employment. The employer is legally responsible for the damages if the employee caused them while performing a job. If a driver for a transportation firm is involved in an accident with a pedestrian, for example, the pedestrian can sue both the driver and the firm. Under the doctrine of respondeat superior, an employer can be held liable for a tort, a civil wrong other than breach of contract, committed by an employee operating within the scope of the employee's employment.

Workers' compensation laws require the payment of compensation from the employer to the employee in conformity with a schedule for a particular category of injury, provided that the employee is injured during the course of employment. The course of employment encompasses the actual period of employment and the period during which the employee, while on the employer's premises, prepares to commence or to depart from work, such as by changing clothes. Employer-sponsored recreational activities are also considered part of the course of employment when organized, encouraged, or supported by the employer for business purposes, such as the promotion of efficiency. The test is whether the recreation inured to the employee's exclusive benefit or whether the employer had some interest in the activity. Injuries suffered by an employee while observing, participating, or traveling to or from recreational activities sponsored in whole or in part by the employer but conducted on the employee's time and off the employer's premises are not compensable.

Where the recreational activity is part of the employee's compensation, an injury is compensable. If an employer, for business reasons, arranges and pays for an employee to join and participate in a social or athletic club, the employee's activities are an incident of the course of employment and an injury is, therefore, compensable.

The periods during which an employee prepares for work while at home or commutes to his or her place of business are not within the course of employment, and, therefore, are not covered by workers' compensation laws.

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