In Pennsylvania, to be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, you must meet only two requirements—you must have suffered an injury that keeps you from working, and the injury must have been sustained on the job. If you are clearly involved in tasks associated with your job—running a machine, working at your computer or loading goods, there’s often little question whether you were working at the time. But there are situations where your employer may argue that you weren’t hurt while in the course of employment. This blog addresses two of those situations—when you are injured on a break and when you are hurt while traveling for your employer.
Injuries You Suffer While on a Break
Federal labor laws require your employer to provide you with regular breaks, including lunch breaks. What happens if you slip in the break room and sprain your knee? Or if you fall and hurt yourself while out to lunch? The answer depends.
As a general rule, if you suffer an injury in a company cafeteria, lunch or break room, you will qualify for workers’ compensation benefits, even if you were on a break (and even if you had punched out for the break).If you leave your employer’s premises to go to lunch, you no longer qualify for workers’ compensation benefits for any injury suffered, unless you can show that you were acting on behalf of your supervisor or the company at the time. For example, if your boss asks you to pick him up some lunch, you may qualify for workers’ compensation for injuries suffered while on that assignment.
Injuries Sustained While Traveling for Your Employer
You can’t generally recover workers’ compensation benefits for injuries suffered on your way to or from work, unless you deviated from your route to perform some work-related task—your boss asked you to stop and pick up light bulbs or bagels, for example. If you are on a business trip, you can recover workers’ compensation benefits for injuries suffered, provided the activity you were engaged in was not strictly personal. If the injury occurred on your way to or from a conference or meeting, or while you were getting something to eat, you are probably covered. But if you went to the nightclub and slipped on the dance floor, you are probably not covered.
Contact Our Office
At Barnard, Mezzanotte, Pinnie, Seelaus & Kraft LLP, we offer experienced and knowledgeable legal counsel to individuals in Pennsylvania. To set up an appointment for a free initial consultation, call us at 610-565-4055 or 302-594-4535 or contact us online.