Georgia Workers Might Not be Covered for Accidents on Lunch Breaks
A recent Georgia Court of Appeals decision focused on the issue of lunch breaks and scheduled breaks during one’s workday. The Court analyzed whether a worker could make a workers’ compensation claim for an injury that occurred during a lunch break, and the majority found that such a claim would not be covered.*
In the state of Georgia, an injured worker can pursue a workers’ compensation claim if the injury arose from the worker’s employment and occurred during the course of the worker’s employment. Injuries that occur during the course of employment are not “personal pursuits.” They happen while the employee is on the clock, so-to-speak, and performing work duties. Georgia courts have held that workers are acting in the course of employment when they travel to and from work, but not while they are performing personal errands.
The case Frett v. State Farm Insurance Employee Workers Compensation examined the phrase “in the course of employment” to see whether a woman was entitled to workers’ compensation for a lunch break injury. The woman was leaving the breakroom after her scheduled lunch break and slipped on some water.
The Court found that because the woman was on a scheduled lunch break, her time was her own during that period. She was not on the company’s time but was performing the personal pursuit of eating lunch in the breakroom. She could have eaten elsewhere or done something else with her lunch hour, so the injury did not occur in the course of her employment, the Court found. The decision might leave room, however, for claims related to injuries that occur during workers’ unscheduled breaks.
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