Lunch Breaks & Workers’ Compensation
Workers’ compensation covers injuries that happen while someone is on the job – more specifically, injuries sustained “in the course and scope of employment.” However, there are certain gray areas, one of which is lunchtime injuries. If you have been injured while on your lunch break, you may think that you have no ability to seek compensation from your employer – but there are exceptions, and it is worth examining whether or not your situation might fit one of those exceptions.
Generally, Florida workers’ compensation law holds that only injuries that happen during the “course and scope” of employment are eligible for compensation. However, the courts have, over time, taken up the question of what the “course and scope” of employment actually is. Lunch breaks and ‘personal comfort’ breaks of shorter duration are in theory breaks from the scope of employment, but this is not always the case, and there are several different factors that must be entertained before determining what truly constitutes on-the-job or off-the-job.
The general rule in these types of cases is that an accident on a lunch break is not compensable if there is a specific, delineated lunch time. In other words, if a lunch break is always taken at a specific time, it counts as a break from the course and scope of employment. That said, the less fixed the lunch break is, the more likely an injury during that break will be compensable. This is especially true if you do not leave your employer’s premises during your break.
“Personal Comfort” Breaks
While lunch break injuries’ compensability is determined usually by timing and location, injuries sustained on “personal comfort” breaks like bathroom breaks are more often compensable than not. Generally, the determining factor in whether or not an injury on a break will be compensable is the question of whether or not the employee is still within the employer’s control, and if the break is too short to put the employee outside of the employer’s control, the employee will usually be ruled to have been on the job and thus eligible for compensation.
It is worth noting that under Florida law, there are exceptions to this ‘control’ requirement. Sometimes, an employee will “deviate” from their course of employment – for example, running a personal errand on a break – and if an injury happens during that ‘deviation,’ it will usually not be compensable – unless the employer expressly approves the deviation or the deviation is in response to an emergency.
Contact An Orlando Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
Accidents can happen at any given moment, even when you are not technically on the job. If you are injured on a break from work, you need to consult an experienced attorney to ensure that your rights are protected during the compensation process. The Orlando workers’ compensation lawyers at the Hornsby Law Group can try to answer your questions and help point you in the right direction for you and your family. Call us today for a free consultation.