Break Injuries and Workers’ Compensation
Workers’ compensation law is designed to compensate employees for injuries sustained on the job. However, confusion can happen when an injury happens during a break – in theory, a person on a break is not on the job, but at the same time, it is debatable whether a break is long enough to put the employee outside of their employer’s control. If you have been injured while on a break at work, it is generally a good idea to contact an attorney to determine what your options are.
Within The “Course & Scope Of Employment”
Florida workers’ compensation coverage will be available to an employee who is injured while acting within the course and scope of employment, as long as the injury arises out of the employment as well. On its face, this would seem to say that any injuries that happen on one’s breaks will not be compensable, because in theory, breaks are not within the “course and scope” of employment. However, Florida courts have sometimes held that accidents on break are compensable, especially if the break occurs on the employer’s premises.
If you leave your employer’s premises for lunch, it may be more difficult to determine whether any injury is covered by workers’ compensation. There have been cases where off-the-premises accidents have been ruled to be covered, but generally, they have involved the employee being away from work on some business for their employer. For example, if your boss asks you to run an errand on your lunch break, and you are injured during that process, your injuries will almost certainly be compensable.
The Personal Comfort Exception
There is one other time when a lunchtime or break injury may be compensable, and that is when a worker is permitted to take very short breaks to attend to their personal comfort. Florida case law has held that a break permitted by the employer that is of “insubstantial duration” is usually not enough to say that the employer’s authority over the employee has lapsed. The law generally permits a worker to attend to personal comfort during a workday, within reason, because it will often make an employee a better worker.
Because personal comfort is such a subjective term, however, it is never a good idea to assume that your short activity will be considered within the scope of employment. Contacting an attorney experienced in this area of law is always a good idea, especially since workers’ compensation law is rife with tiny details that are all too easy to miss. Trying to file a petition for benefits is a fraught endeavor.
Call An Orlando Workers’ Compensation Attorney
While breaks are not guaranteed under Florida law, this does not mean that any injury you suffer during that time is not covered under workers’ compensation law. Each case is different, so contacting an Orlando workers’ compensation attorney at the Hornsby Law Group is a good first step. Call our offices today for a free consultation.