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After-Hours Injury

Question: Late one night an employee realizes he left an anniversary gift he bought for his wife on a piece of equipment at work. He is planning to surprise his wife the next morning with the gift so he sneaks out and drives back to work. He arrives at his workstation and sees the small jewelry box has fallen behind a heavy shelving unit, just out of reach. As he attempts to push the shelf away from the wall it begins to tip and, he instinctually attempts to stop it from falling, smashing his hand and breaking a finger. Is it compensable? -Nate B. 3/15/21

Answer(s):

Hawaii is a little different than most states, they have a presumption in place that "places on the employer the burden of producing substantial evidence to the contrary to rebut a claim for a covered work injury." (https://labor.hawaii.gov/dcd/home/aboutwc/) Because of this presumption, injuries are generally covered IF the injured employee files a claim. The employer would have to make the case that the employee shouldn't have been in the office, and that they were not doing work (or a work related task). In this particular case, the employer could point out it was after hours, and he was engaged in a purely personal errand (of no benefit to the company), which would not be compensated. I believe this would not be compensable, but as stated, Hawaii handles these a little differently, and may disagree. -McKell S. 3/15/21


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