Lunch Break (and Other Off-the-Clock) Injuries: Are You Covered?

lunch breakPicture this: a woman named Martha works for a law firm. Her regular lunch hour runs from noon until 1:00 PM. Prior to her break, her employer asked if she could make a detour by the court house on her way back from lunch. Martha agreed and by 12:50, she stopped by the courthouse for the files. While walking up the steps, she slipped and fell, breaking her arm.

The question now is — will Martha’s workplace compensation cover her injury?

All Injuries Must Be Work-Related

If you are like Martha seeking worker’s compensation benefits, you must first prove that your injury is work-related. If you were doing an errand from your employer and sustained an injury as a result, you are eligible for compensation. Make sure that you meet other eligibility requirements to sustain your benefits.

While the ‘work-related’ requirement seems simple, it can be confusing in some cases.  According to, dealing with accidents at work and claims that fall under grey areas can be stressful. For this reason, it is essential to work with an attorney.

The Case of Lunch Break Injuries

Compensations do not usually cover injuries that occur during the employee’s lunch hour. For example, if you sprained your ankle on the way to work or while picking up lunch for your colleague, you cannot claim compensation. However, if you were out on an errand from your boss on the way from lunch, your compensation may cover your injuries.

If you broke your leg in the cafeteria, you can still benefit from compensation. Rather than leave the company for food, using the cafeteria saves you time and also benefits your employer.

Commutes and Company Events

Companies often sponsor events such as parties, team buildings and picnics; due to the numerous activities, injuries are inevitable. Events are often covered to protect workers in case of accidents. If an employee drinks too much during a party and sustains an injury, he is covered by his compensation.

The same cannot be said for commuting to and from work, unless you are travelling for work. Travelling salespeople who sustain injuries can expect medical subsidy. If you regularly commute but are driving a company car, your injuries fall under compensation as well.

You can only claim compensation if your injuries are work-related. For cases that fall under grey areas, ask for the help of an attorney to know your next step.