In today’s video, Personal Injury Lawyer Ben Schwartz answers a viewer’s question. If I get hurt on lunch break and I am still at my workplace, Is that a workers’ compensation issue?
Hi, I am attorney Ben Schwartz,
Today we are going to answer a viewer question from Josh Phipps. Josh, I believe, is in Delaware. He wrote in, he said hello, big fan of your videos. I heard you like it when people recommend ideas for new ones, which I did after watching your video about workers’ comp. I came up with a question for you. If I am hurt on lunch but still at my workplace, is that a workers’ compensation issue? This has not happened to me or anyone I know. It was just something I thought up. Thanks for your time and please keep making those great videos.
Josh thanks for the encouragement. I really appreciate it when people write in and tell me, “yeah, they like this.” I think it is great that you thought up this question and there is a couple of things I want to tell you. First off, every workers’ compensation case is factual dependent, meaning the facts of every single case are going to differ in some way. Unless I can look at the facts in a particular case, I cannot really figure out if this is going to be an on-the-job-covered workers’ compensation injury or not.
But I am going to give you some general concepts that come into play. Number one, when you are on the job if you are within the course and scope of employment, meaning you are on the job, you are doing what you are supposed to be doing. You are clocked in. You are on the premises of the employer. You are covered by the workers’ comp. You know if you get injured you have the right to make a claim for the workers’ compensation benefits.
Those benefits are there to pay your medical expenses. They are there to pay most, hopefully, most of your lost wages. They are there to pay for other things like permanent impairment. If you have a permanent functional impairment to a body part, they are there to cover you for that. They are there to cover you for disfigurement if you should have a scar or some other type of visible, you know change to your appearance as a result of the work incident, then you may be entitled to compensation. Those benefits cover other things as well. That is not an exhaustive list.
So, if you are in the course and scope of your duties as an employee you are going to be covered. But there are situations where you may be covered even though you are not technically working or there are situations where you may not be covered. If you are at work, you are at the office, you are at the plant, you are on-premises, but you are on break, that is a personal comfort issue. You are still required to be there and so even though you are not working the line, even though you are not doing legal research as a paralegal, even though you are not doing whatever it is that you do. You are still on-premises, and you are still covered by workers’ comp insurance. So there is that.
There is also what is called the going and coming rule or the coming and going rule depending on which one you want to put first. But the rule says, when you are coming into work or going home from work, you are not within the course and scope of employment and therefore you are not covered. So if you were leaving, you know you clocked out. You are leaving work, For example, you are going out to the Chinese buffet to get lunch. You are on your way to getting lunch. You are technically not acting within the course and scope of employment. You are technically not on the job, and you would not expect to be covered by workers’ comp.
Except, there are exceptions to the exception. This is how workers’ comp works. You know there are exceptions to the exceptions. There are rules to the exceptions, there are exceptions to the exceptions and there are exceptions to the exceptions exceptions. It is complicated, it is very specialized and it changes from state to state.
So, let us say you are on the job. You are going out to lunch. You are going to the Chinese buffet. You get in your car. You are clocked out. While you are out at the Chinese buffet, running around, you may be going to do a couple of personal errands. You are going to go to the bank and deposit your paycheck. Your wife wants you to pick up bread and peanut butter and jelly, so you can have that for dinner tonight, so you are going to hit the supermarket and get those things. You are not doing anything to further your employer’s business while you are out on your lunch break. You are in your car, and you are driving towards the exit of the parking lot, but you are still on-premises. Well, there is a premises exception to the going and coming rule. You are still on-premises so you may still be covered with workers’ comp.
Josh this stuff is very complicated, that is all I can tell you. It comes down to, are you in the course and scope of employment? There are many things that you look at, you know, are you clocked in? Are you on the premises? Are you acting in furtherance of, you know the tasks, are you doing the tasks that are in furtherance of the employers’ business? Are you on your way home and you are off-premises? On your way home, are you stopping at the bank to deposit your personal paycheck? Or, are you stopping in the bank to do the deposit of the receipts from the store? Because that would be something in the furtherance of the employer’s business.
It is all fact-dependent, and it is all very complicated and technical. But generally speaking, these are the concepts that you deal with in this sort of issue. My personal vote would be that if you are at work, you take a lunch break, and you are still on the premises when you got injured during that lunch break. My vote would be that you are probably covered with workers’ comp. You should probably go to a workers’ comp lawyer in the jurisdiction where you are located and get a free consultation.
I am attorney Ben Schwartz, thanks for watching. Hopefully, I did not blast your brain with too much detail. It is a complicated concept, but hey that is workers’ compensation insurance. If you have questions for me, send me an email just like Josh did, or you can leave a comment on this video and let us know what your thoughts are. Thanks for watching!