Lunch Time Accidents in the Workplace in Florida
If you have an accident, while at lunch in your workplace, you can be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits in the State of Florida. The attorneys here at Harris Guidi Rosner, P.A. can discuss this fully with you at a free consultation and discuss your legal rights. There is a premise called the personal comfort doctrine and this is the idea that workers are within the course and scope of employment when attending to personal comfort needs such as rest breaks and lunch on their employer’s premises. While accidents occurring at lunch are looked at on a case by case basis, employees who take his or her lunch break on their employer’s property are still in the course and scope of employment and if injured during this time, their accident is compensable and benefits should be provided. See Doctor’s Business Service, Inc. v. Clark, 498 So. 2d 659 (Fla. 1st DCA 1986). The only time an exception will apply is if the employee had some type of substantial deviation from the job when the lunch injury occurred. Going off the job-site for lunch changes the analysis however, and if an accident occurs, workers’ compensation benefits may not be due. Simply having work related discussions off the job-site will not be enough to make it a work-related accident and having such a work conversation will not make a social lunch into a “working lunch” for purposes of determining workers’ compensation coverage. However, if a purpose of a trip if business, and lunch is coincidental, an injured employee will be determined to be in the course and scope of employment by courts in Florida. See City of Miami v. Dwight, 637 So.2d 981 (Fla. 1st DCA 1994).
The whole concept of the personal comfort doctrine is that a Florida employer gets a benefit when its employees attend to their health and personal comfort. When these personal comfort activities are such that benefit the employer, these activities arise out of employment. Similar situations that are covered under workers compensation in Florida are as follows:
- When an employee is injured using the restroom at work
- When an employee is injured getting a free flu shot at work
- When an employee is injured by a defective soft drink at work
- When an employee is injured going to an employer condoned/approved convenience store
Once the employee’s break becomes something more than a personal comfort break, and more of a personal errand, the connection with work will stop and the employer’s obligation to provide coverage in the event of an injury will not apply. Courts look at the specific facts and decide the situation on a case by case basis.
If you have any questions about if you are entitled to benefits following an accident at work, please contact us at Harris Guidi Rosner, P.A. for a free consultation about your legal rights at (904) 777-7777. You may also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a time to discuss your case.
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