In most circumstances, workers are not eligible for workers’ compensation if they are injured on break. Yet, there are factors to take into account when determining whether an injury sustained on a lunch break is eligible for compensation.
What is Workers’ Compensation?
First, it is important to understand what types of injuries do qualify for workers’ compensation. The idea behind workers’ compensation is to provide financial relief to those suffering from work injuries or illnesses. It may apply to repetitive injuries, strains, or stress injuries, as well as illnesses that occurred in the course of work. An illness could result if an employee was constantly exposed to a certain chemical that led to his or her illness.
What is the Coming and Going Rule?
In general, an employee is not considered to be on the job when he or she is commuting to and from work; therefore, an injury sustained during a commute will probably not be eligible for workers’ compensation. There are exceptions to this rule, like if the employee is doing a special errand for the boss in the course of the commute or he or she is traveling on a business trip or using a company vehicle during the commute. This is called the coming and going rule. If an employee is only coming or going to or from the job and is not on the clock, then workers’ compensation will not apply.
Injuries sustained on a lunch break would, under most circumstances, fall under the coming and going rule. This is because the employee is technically not on the clock or working during a lunch break. Although, there are a few exceptions to this rule that always need to be considered.
The injury sustained on a lunch break could qualify for workers’ compensation in the following situations:
- If the employee was running an errand for the employer while on his or her lunch break.
- If the employee was hurt while eating lunch on the company’s premises. This is especially important if the employee was eating in the company’s cafeteria and sustained an injury or illness, such as a burn or food poisoning.
- If the employee was at a special company event during the lunch hour, such as a holiday luncheon. This could get more complicated if the employer did not expect the employee to attend.
- If the employee was on a business trip.
Misconduct Usually Disqualifies Eligibility for Workers’ Compensation
Workers’ compensation benefits will also not cover employees committing misconduct at work, such as participating in horseplay or breaking workplace rules on purpose. An exception to this is an employer explicitly condoning this behavior. Innocent employees who are injured as a result of someone’s misconduct may be eligible for worker’s compensation.
Determining workers’ compensation eligibility can be difficult. If a worker is injured during a lunch break, it is advisable to speak to a lawyer. A lawyer will determine if he or she is eligible for compensation and will construct the best course of action possible.
Downingtown Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Wusinich, Sweeney & Ryan, LLC Help Injured Workers Receive Compensation
If you were injured while on a lunch break, one of our Downingtown workers’ compensation lawyers at Wusinich, Sweeney & Ryan, LLC can help. We navigate difficult workers’ compensation claims, and we will determine if you are eligible for benefits. Contact us online or call us at 610-594-1600 for a free consultation. Located in Exton, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout Downingtown, West Chester, Exton, Coatesville, Phoenixville, Malvern, Lyndell, Wagontown, Uwchlan Township, Parkesburg, Chester Springs, Lancaster County, Reading, and Morgantown.