For many workplaces, December is full of celebrations. From ugly sweater contests to cookie exchanges to Secret Santa to holiday dinners, many offices embrace the festive atmosphere and invite their employees to have a little fun around the holidays.
Even if your office is a bit of a Grinch in December, it’s likely you have one event celebrating the season: the office holiday party. Whether it’s a small pitch-in during your lunch or an all-out extravaganza at a venue after hours, the office holiday party can quickly go from professional to problematic. Evansville is no stranger to holiday parties that get out of hand — remember the Evansville Convention & Visitors Bureau party last year that gave a new meaning to the phrase, “going whole hog”?
But worse than leaving an office holiday party with a massive bill is leaving with an injury. If you slip and fall at your office holiday party, who’s responsible? That depends.
Who’s Responsible? Yourself
Personal liability extends into the workplace. Regardless of whether your party is at the office or another venue, you have a personal responsibility to keep yourself safe.
There are a few scenarios in which you may be responsible for your own injury, including but not limited to:
- If you start a fight with someone else
- If you trip simply by accident
- If you trip because of your level of intoxication
- If you’re injured in a well-marked, forbidden area (e.g., the kitchen of a restaurant)
It’s important to remember that every case is different, however, so even if you’ve been injured in one of the above scenarios, someone else may share responsibility. For example, if you slip and fall because you’re intoxicated, you may have a case if the bartender knowingly overserved you.
Who’s Responsible? The Venue
If your office holiday party isn’t on office property, then the venue may be responsible for your injury.
In most slip and fall cases, three things need to be true for the venue to be responsible:
- There was an unmarked (or poorly marked) hazard on the premises
- The venue knew about the hazard and had enough time to address it, but failed to do so
- Your injury is the direct result of the hazard
The venue knowing about the hazard and failing to address it is a particularly key component to most slip and fall cases. A venue’s failure to address potential hazards is known as negligence.
It’s also important that your injury is the direct result of the same hazard. Let’s say, for example, that there’s a spill by the bar. The bartender knows about it but doesn’t put up a caution sign and doesn’t clean it up or ask someone else to do so for a full twenty minutes. You approach the bar, see the wet spot even though it’s not marked, and decide to go around it. While walking around the spot, you trip over your own two feet and injure yourself. Because the hazard (in this case, the spill) didn’t directly cause your injury, then the venue likely wouldn’t be responsible for your medical bills.
Who’s Responsible? Your Workplace
If your office holiday party is held on office property, then your workplace will likely be responsible for your injuries. But even if your office holiday party is held elsewhere, your workplace may still be responsible.
This is where personal injury law and workers’ compensation law intersect. Is your office holiday party mandatory? Does the party occur while you’re technically on the clock? Is it on office property? If you answered yes to even one of these questions, you may have a workers’ compensation case on your hands. Depending on the circumstances of your injury, you may have a personal injury claim and a workers’ compensation claim simultaneously. An Evansville personal injury attorney can help you determine what kind of case you have and may be able to handle both cases, depending on the law firm.
Help from an Evansville Personal Injury Attorney
We hope you have a great time at your office holiday party this year, but in case the unexpected happens, Hensley Legal Group is here to help. Call our Evansville personal injury attorneys today or contact us online for a free conversation about your claim.