If Injured on a Break at Work, Can I Receive Compensation?

While nobody wants to experience a work injury, these incidents occur on a regular basis in and around our area. The good news is that those who sustain on-the-job injuries in California are entitled to receive workers’ compensation coverage to pay for their medical bills and lost wages. However, what happens if an employee sustains an injury while they are on break? Will they receive the same coverage that others are entitled to for work injuries? This is an important question, and the answer may surprise many readers.

Workers’ compensation and work breaks

There are various types of breaks that workers may take throughout the day when they are at work. Typically, most workers will take a lunch break that may be 30 minutes to an hour long. There will also likely be several shorter breaks that an employee is entitled to, depending on how long their shift is.

Unfortunately, there is still the real possibility that a worker will sustain an injury when they are on break. This could happen due to a slip and fall incident, a car accident on the way to get lunch, or an injury caused by a third-party.

Understanding whether or not an injury occurred while on break is covered by workers’ compensation largely depends on where the incident occurred. Generally, workers’ compensation will not cover injuries that happened during lunch breaks, but there are various exceptions to this rule.

  • If an employee has been asked by their boss to get lunch for them so that the boss can continue working, this would be considered an errand for the benefit of the employer. If the employee sustains an injury in this case, they will generally be covered by workers’ compensation. However, if an employee is on their personal break and simply offers to pick up food for coworkers, they will not likely receive any workers’ compensation coverage if they sustain an injury.
  • If an injury occurs while an employee is taking their break on a company-owned property, then the injury will generally be considered work-related and likely covered by workers’ compensation. However, this will not be the case if the worker was injured were doing something on the lunch break that was not allowed or fell within various exceptions to workers’ compensation coverage. This could include voluntary recreational activities such as power-walks, calisthenics, etc.

Employees often use breaks to unwind and joke around with one another. However, if an employee is injured while they are doing something that is prohibited by the employer, their injury may not be covered by workers’ compensation. Workers’ comp coverage is generally not available if an injury occurs due to fooling around (horseplay), if an employee is committing a crime, if workplace rule is broken on purpose, or if the worker intentionally tried to harm themselves or another person.

Will you need an attorney?

If you or somebody you love sustains an injury while on break at work, you need to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. Anytime you are dealing with a workers’ compensation insurance carrier or an employer, you should have an advocate by your side. At Aitken * Aitken * Cohn, we will thoroughly investigate your case and work to secure any compensation you are entitled to. You can contact us for a free consultation of your case by clicking here or by calling 855-904-1851.