Hopefully you work for a company that is throwing some sort of office/Christmas/holiday party  for you and your co-workers.  It’s not as good as a cash gift, but it’s nice to have a fun evening with your co-workers.

Just playing the percentages and certainly when you add in alcohol, someone is likely to get hurt at one of these parties.  The question is, if you are hurt at the company holiday party, is it a workers’ compensation case in Illinois?

The answer, like with most cases, is that it depends.

The key legal point that usually decides if you win or lose is was it mandatory for you to be there? How do we determine that? It’s not often that you are told it’s mandatory, but it happens. Some indirect ways you know it’s mandatory are if you have to be working if you aren’t at the party or if you get docked pay if you don’t attend.

Other times you are made to feel it’s mandatory.  For example, you can be told that it would “look bad” if you aren’t there or that it “would be beneficial to your advancement” to get to know your boss and their spouse.  Still other times there are clients there so you end up doing work that benefits the company.

Even then it’s not a slam dunk. It will come down to how credibly you testify compared to what others say in support of or against you.  You also will have to have accident facts in your favor.  If you dance in a reckless manner and get injured, it won’t help your case.  If you are wasted and that’s why you fell down and got hurt, you will lose your case.

On the flip side, while normally you can’t sue an employer for negligence, if it’s determined that your presence at the party wasn’t mandatory, but the employer was negligent, you would be able to sue.  For example, if you didn’t have to go to the party, but chose to go to it and it was held in the company warehouse, if you slipped on a wet floor and hurt your leg, you might be able to sue.

Bottom line is that these aren’t straight forward cases, so if you have an accident at a work party, call us at (312) 346-5578 for a free consultation to see what type of case, if any, you might have.