You are on your lunch break when you sustain an injury. It’s so severe that you can’t go back to work and you need to seek medical treatment. You fear you will be out of work for some time — and the big question on your mind is whether workers’ compensation covers an injury that happened during your lunch break. Is it the same as being injured on the job? Here’s what you need to know about your legal situation.
Determine whether you acted in your own interests or in those of your employer. That will decide your eligibility for workers’ compensation. For instance, if you leave work to run a personal errand during your lunch break, then you are not acting in your employer’s interests. But if you left work to have a business lunch with a potential client, then you were acting in your employer’s interests.
Generally, you are eligible for compensation if you were acting in your employer’s interests and ineligible if you were not. However, the line blurs if you ran a work errand during your lunch, or if you ate lunch on your work campus even though you were not technically on the job. Then, the law will take a more nuanced view.
For instance, you could qualify for workers’ compensation if your workplace injury included:
Most of the time, if the activity doesn’t fall within the scope of your duties as an employee, the claim will be denied. If, for example, you spilled hot soup on your hand when you ate lunch with co-workers off-site, that would not be eligible workers’ compensation.
A workers’ compensation claim for an injury that transpired during lunch will also be subjected to other questions. For instance, had you clocked out when the injury occurred? Some employers do not require you to clock out for lunch — but if you were not performing work duties, you technically were not working.
You could also injure yourself doing something on company grounds at lunch that does not represent company interests. Some employees spend their breaks exercising, such as walking around the company’s campus. While you are at work, you are not performing duties for your job unless you were directed to do this by your supervisor.
Traveling employees may be considered on the clock during their entire trip. An injury that occurs during lunch when you are in another place representing your company’s interests could qualify for workers’ comp. because of this added layer of complexity.
Every case of injury is different. Whether you are eligible for workers’ compensation for your lunch injury under Illinois law depends on the facts of your case. If you sustain an injury during lunch, you can always file a claim for workers’ compensation — but you may be denied. A Chicago-based workers’ compensation lawyer can help you fight for the benefits you may be entitled to.
The Law Offices of Argionis and Associates LLC have experience fighting for workers who suffer on-the-job injuries. Contact us today to set up a free consultation.