Are Injuries On A Break Still Covered By Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation covers any injury sustained in the course and scope of one’s employment. However, there are moments where someone’s status – in terms of whether they are “at work” or not – is up for debate, which can throw a workers’ compensation claim into doubt. One of the most common scenarios is when an employee is injured while on a lunch break – it can be difficult to prove that you were still ‘at work’ when you got hurt.
An employee is covered by workers’ compensation when they are injured within the “course and scope” of their employment. The Connecticut Workers’ Compensation Act has a very wordy and qualified definition of the “course and scope of employment,” but the crux of the definition is that an employee’s accidental injury will be covered if they have been “engaged in the line of … duty in the [employer’s] business or affairs,” either on the employer’s premises or elsewhere as long as they have the employer’s permission to leave the premises.
When an employee is on a break, or having lunch, there has historically been debate about whether they are still acting within the scope of their employment – after all, the employee is demonstrably on a break from their work. However, Connecticut cases on the subject have (fairly uniformly) come down on the side of the employee, and have established three criteria that can determine whether an employee is still within the “course and scope of employment” even while on break or lunch. They are: (1) whether the petitioner is “within the period of their employment” during an unpaid lunch break; (2) whether the petitioner’s injury occurred in a place that they were reasonably entitled to be; and (3) whether the petitioner was engaged in an act “incidental” to their employment at the time of their injury.
In one of the leading cases on the subject, a Connecticut Transit Company employee fell down the steps of an out-of-service bus and injured himself while on lunch break. The Supreme Court of Connecticut held that while he was on break, he was still engaged in employment, or at the very least, that a temporary lunch break did not ‘break the continuity’ of employment enough for an injury to not be compensable. In addition, a rest break or lunch hour, if granted by the employer, is by law ‘incidental’ to employment – after all, an employee who becomes dehydrated or overcome by hunger cannot perform their duties effectively. A lunch break is a minor detour for most employees.
Contact A Connecticut Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If an employee is injured on the job, it is generally understood that with rare exceptions, their injury will be covered under workers’ compensation in Connecticut. If this has not been the case for you because you were injured on a break, calling an experienced Stratford workers’ compensation attorney from the Morizio Law Firm can help clarify what options you have to seek the compensation you deserve. Contact our offices today at 475-338-3505 for a free consultation.