AWC Blog

Workers Comp Claims and Your Holiday Party

holiday party workers' comp claimEveryone was having a great time. “Best party of the year” is what you heard all night. It was until one of your people climbed up on a ladder to adjust a decoration and came crashing down. Now, everyone’s lost their buzz, an ambulance is on the way, and you’re worried about your employee and your workers comp insurance.

The annual holiday party is supposed to be a time to unwind, relax, and socialize with your employees. It can be a great morale booster and a way to celebrate major accomplishments from the year. It’s all fun and games until someone has a little too much to drink, slips and falls, and hurts themselves – and you’re left wondering if a workers comp claim has to be filed or not.

That answer depends on a variety of things, most of which come down to how you planned and organized the party.

When To File a Workers Comp Claim

Every state has its own criteria for workers compensation claims but one common factor is that, if an injury occurred while on the job, a claim should be filed. When it comes to your holiday party, the line between work and play isn’t always clear.

Under certain circumstances, the party injury may be a work injury:

  • Did you endorse the event and in any way benefit from it?
  • Were your employees required or expected to attend the party?
  • Were your employees paid to participate?
  • Was the party considered a form of compensation for your employees?
  • Did you give out awards or bonuses at the party that wouldn’t be awarded at any other time?
  • Did the accident take place at your business due to an unsafe condition that you never fixed?

Answering yes to any of these questions could trigger the need to file a claim.

Preventing Accidents and Claims During Your Holiday Party

There’s no need to cancel this year’s party to avoid possible accidents and workers compensation claims. Take a few preventative measures in the planning process, and you can all enjoy the festivities.

  • Reconsider serving alcohol at all. If you do, hire professionals to serve. They’ll know when someone has had too much and be able to cut them off.
  • Don’t allow employees to think they’re required to attend. Make it clear that they’re free to choose whether they come or not.
  • Don’t give out awards or do other work-related activities during the party.
  • Invite family members to attend.
  • Schedule the party somewhere other than your property and, if possible, hold it on the weekend or some other time your business is normally closed.


Plan your holiday party so that it’s clear to everyone that this isn’t another day at the office. Keep work and play clearly separated, and if someone gets hurt, your workers compensation insurance premiums won’t take the hit.

If you’ve got questions about how to handle your holiday party or you want a quote for a new workers compensation policy, contact us today.

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