Does workers’ compensation cover for injuries during lunch?

For workers in Scranton, the question of whether workers’ compensation covers injuries sustained during lunch breaks can be complex. This blog post aims to shed light on the general guidelines and exceptions related to lunch break injuries and workers’ compensation in northeastern Pennsylvania.

Defining workers compensation

In Pennsylvania, employers are legally obligated to secure workers’ compensation insurance, either through private carriers, the State Worker’s Insurance Fund or by self-insuring. Covered benefits encompass medical expenses, wage loss benefits, specific loss benefits and death benefits.

Unlike personal injury claims, workers’ compensation claims do not demand proof of employer fault. However, the crucial requirement is demonstrating that the injury occurred while the employee was engaged in job-related duties and that the cause of the injury is linked to a work-related risk.

Coverage for lunch break injuries

Generally, injuries sustained during lunch breaks are not typically covered by workers’ compensation unless they transpire on the employer’s premises or while the employee is performing a task benefiting the employer. Lunch breaks are regarded as personal time outside the scope of employment. Nevertheless, exceptions exist.

On-premises injuries

If an employee remains on the employer’s premises during lunch break and sustains an injury, eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits may apply. Courts in Pennsylvania have recognized that employees on-site during lunch breaks are still contributing to the employer’s business. For instance, injuries in the break room or due to a malfunctioning microwave may warrant a valid workers’ compensation claim.

Off-premises injuries

Leaving the employer’s premises during a lunch break does not necessarily preclude eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits. If the injury occurs while performing a task for the employer’s benefit or at the employer’s request (e.g., picking up lunch for a co-worker), a valid claim may exist.

Traveling employees

Workers whose job involves constant travel away from a fixed work site may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits for injuries during travel time, including lunch breaks. For instance, a salesperson involved in a car accident while driving to a restaurant may have a valid claim.

Filing a claim

If you were injured during a lunch break and believe you have a workers’ compensation claim, you can file a claim. First, report the injury to your employer. Notify them in writing within 120 days of the injury. Second, seek medical attention. Visit an approved provider, often designated by the employer, for the first 90 days of treatment.

Finally, file a claim petition. If the employer denies the claim or fails to provide benefits within 21 days of notice, file a claim petition with the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. Understanding the nuances of coverage for lunch break injuries is crucial for Pennsylvania workers seeking benefits.