Barry Jan 2022 Blog

Can You Claim Workers’ Compensation for Injuries That Took Place During a Rest or Meal Break?

Workers’ compensation insurance covers employees who have been injured while on the job. The legal definition stipulates that to qualify injuries must “arise out of employment and occur within the course and scope of employment.” However, these situations can quickly get complicated, especially when it comes to lunch or rest breaks.

Workers’ Compensation Laws

The laws regarding workers’ compensation insurance vary slightly from state to state. In some U.S. states, companies with a certain number of employees must carry this type of coverage. In other states, regardless of how many employees you have, you might need to purchase workers’ compensation insurance. Some jurisdictions require that employers use only state-sanctioned workers’ compensation (WC) providers. If they can provide sufficient proof of earnings, some companies may self-insure themselves against workers’ compensation claims.

Lunch Breaks

As a general rule  a workers’ compensation insurance company will not cover injuries if an employee is injured while on a lunch break. However, there are exceptions to this rule. For example, if you were hurt while out getting lunch for yourself but also doing a company errand such as picking up lunch for the entire office or visiting a vendor to pick up work supplies, it may be covered.

There are other exceptions to the rule, but the workers’ compensation adjuster handling your case will closely examine all factors surrounding the incident, such as where it took place, how it occurred, and were there any extenuating circumstances when you were injured.

As a rule of thumb though, most lunch breaks, are not covered under workers’ compensation unless the employee was also performing job-related duties.

Rest Breaks

The most critical argument in a workers’ compensation case is proving that the employee was injured while performing job-related duties. When evaluating a workers’ compensation case, a judge may look at the time or place when the accident and injury occurred. For example, if the employee was on a rest break that factors in.

The basis for determining whether the claim qualifies is, was the employee acting in his own or the employer’s interest? For example, if the employee was on a rest break, but the boss asked him to run an errand during that break, and he was injured, that would most likely qualify. The critical point is that the employee must have been acting on an employer’s request at the time of the accident for it to be covered under workers’ compensation. If the employee took a break to run a personal errand and was hurt, that would not fall under workers’ compensation. These types of issues are often messy and difficult to determine. Employees are, however, given time to take a work break and may still be covered by worker’s comp even if on the break if these breaks are allowed and assist the employee in his overall accomplishment of his job duties.

Where to Turn for Help

If the employee was doing both an errand for work and on break at the same time, the situation could become even more complex. That is why it is essential to speak with your workers’ compensation attorney whenever you have questions or need help with your case.

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