Well, that depends. The Workers’ Compensation Act covers “injuries by accident arising out of and in the course of employment.” [NCGS 97-2 (6)] While that definition sounds simple enough, it really isn’t. The statute further provides definitions to explain each of the terms of that “simple” definition. First you must have an “accident” which causes an injury. We all generally know what an accident is. But by defining a workers’ compensation injury as an injury by accident, it suggests that any injury that occurs during your normal work routine is not covered under the Workers’ Compensation Act. That doesn’t seem very fair, does it? Well, that’s just the half of it.
In addition to the injury having to be caused by an accident, that injury must also arise out of AND in the course of employment. Now what the heck does that mean? To arise out of and in the course of employment, there must be a reasonable relationship between the injury and employment. The injured worker must have been performing some activity that is authorized by the employer or benefits the employer’s business in some way.
Now I’ll admit, I’ve overly simplified the explanation of a injury by accident that gives rise to coverage under the Workers’ Compensation Act. There has been numerous litigation over the various nuances and interpretations of the law which has resulted in exceptions to the general rule. For this reason, I suggest that you speak with a workers’ compensation attorney if you are ever injured on the job. The attorney will be better able to discuss with you whether you indeed have a compensable injury.