When a worker is injured during a break, at lunch or while traveling for business, it can sometimes be unclear whether the injury is covered by workers’ compensation laws. A workers’ compensation attorney can help analyze the specifics of a case to determine whether benefits may be available for such “off-the-clock” injuries.
Accidents on the Job
Many break time and lunch injuries are eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits, even if the employee is engaging in an activity for his or her own personal use, such as using the restroom. For example, if a worker is injured while in the worksite cafeteria, he or she may still be entitled to benefits. The basis for recovery in this type of situation is that the employee’s use of an employment cafeteria benefits the employer because it reduces the amount of time the employee will need for lunch. However, there are exceptions to the application of this rule. A workers’ compensation attorney can explain that many lunch or break time injuries are often denied initially.
Off Premises Injuries
Workers’ compensation benefits may be available even if an injury occurred off the premises. For example, if an employee is performing a work-related task during his or her lunch hour, such as picking up the boss’ lunch or office supplies, the injury may be covered. Likewise, if the travel is for work purposes, the injury may be compensable.
When determining whether such off premises injuries are compensable, a court may consider the purpose of the travel and whether it represents a frolic or a detour. A frolic is the pursuit of an employee’s own personal business and is not related to employment. For example, an employee may run errands on his or her lunch break that have nothing to do with the working relationship. A workers’ compensation attorney can explain that such frolics are often uncompensated. However, a detour is a deviation from the employer’s business but which are still sufficiently related to the scope of employment. For example, the employee may travel to a spot designated by an employer and then complete personal business nearby. These injuries typically are compensated. A workers’ compensation attorney can evaluate such cases and help appeal any denials of lunch time injuries.