Injured on a coffee break? Do you still get benefits?

I have a lot of clients and potential clients come to me with what at first seems like great claims, but then they give me one detail that gives me pause: they tell me they were at lunch or getting coffee when injured.  That makes the situation much more fact-intensive.

In Georgia, an injury is compensable, in other words, you are entitled to benefits, if you are on a mission connected with your employment.  However, if you break the continuity of your employment, at that point you go from being “on the job” to “off the job” for the purposes of eligibility for workers’ compensation.  However, then, if you get “back on track”, you are once again “on the job”.  Here’s a real world example:

Employee is asked to drop off packages at the Post Office prior to a work meeting at another location.  However, it being a busy morning, she stops to get coffee at a local shop along the way.  For the purposes of workers’ compensation, she is arguably on the job at and from the post office all the way up to the point she is out of her car and walking into the coffee shop.  However, once she purchases the coffee then begins returning to her car, she is once again in the scope of her employment.  In this example, the employee suffered an injury when she tripped while trying to get into her car so she could head to the meeting.  That would be considered in the scope of her employment.

There are several caveats to this rule.  For instance, in the above example, instead of grabbing coffee, had the employee driven 20 miles out of her way to run home, getting injured while returning to the car may not be considered compensable.  Or, had the employee stopped between the post office and the meeting to help a stranded driver and gotten injured in the course of that activity, that too would not be considered compensable, even though it is admirable.

If you have an injury that is similar to these facts, or any other injury, give me a call so I can let you know if you have a claim and/or if you need an attorney

Dave Thompson

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