For employees in New York City, the question of whether an injury sustained during a lunch break or while walking to or from work qualifies for workers’ compensation benefits can be perplexing. Your eligibility hinges on several factors, including the location, timing and circumstances of the injury, along with whether the individual was engaged in work-related activities at the time.
Understanding workers’ compensation
Workers’ compensation serves as an insurance mechanism, offering cash benefits and medical care to employees who suffer injuries or illnesses directly related to their jobs. Employers bear the cost of this insurance and are prohibited from requiring employees to contribute to compensation expenses.
To be eligible for coverage, an injury must arise out of and occur within the course of employment. This necessitates the employee to be performing job-related duties at the time of the accident, and the cause of the accident must be linked to job-related risks.
Coverage for injuries during lunch breaks
Generally, injuries sustained during an employee’s lunch break are not deemed work-related. For instance, spraining an ankle while walking to a deli for personal lunch is typically not covered by workers’ compensation. However, exceptions exist.
Exceptions to no lunch coverage
Coverage may apply if the injury occurs in a space provided by the employer, like a breakroom, due to the employer’s negligence (e.g., a poorly maintained area). Injuries on the employer’s premises or in areas under employer control may also be eligible for compensation.
Coverage may also apply if the employee is tasked with a work-related errand or duty during the lunch break, such as picking up items for the team. Coverage would also apply if the lunch break involves attendance at a work-related meeting, training or event beneficial to the employer.
Whether an injury during a lunch break or walk is covered by workers’ compensation depends on the circumstances and the nature of employment. Clarifying these aspects and taking appropriate steps can help navigate the process of seeking compensation for medical expenses and lost wages.