Georgia Appeals Court Denies Workers’ Comp. Benefits for Lunch Break Injury
GEORGIA – According to an online report posted at jdsupra.com, the Georgia Court of Appeals recently denied workers’ compensation benefits to a woman who was injured during an accident on her lunch break. The woman was previously awarded benefits, and that decision was overturned by the State Board of Workers’ Compensation.*
In the case Frett v. State Farm Insurance Employee Workers Compensation, the Court of Appeals heard about a slip-and-fall accident that took place on a worker’s scheduled lunch break. The woman logged out of the company system for her break and prepared her lunch in the company breakroom. As she was leaving the breakroom with her meal, she slipped and fell.
An administrative law judge awarded the woman workers’ compensation benefits for her injuries, holding that she was within the course and scope of her employment under the “ingress and egress rule.” This rule provides that employees on company premises are covered for a reasonable amount of time while they are beginning or ending work.
However, the State Board of Workers’ Compensation reversed that decision, finding that the woman was not within her scope of employment because she was on a scheduled, unpaid lunch break, during which her time was her own. A Superior Court judge upheld the Board’s finding.
On appeal, the Court agreed with the Board and the lower court and held that Georgia had no precedent for application of the ingress and egress rule to scheduled lunch breaks. The decision clarifies that workers are not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for accidents that occur during scheduled lunch breaks, even if the workers are taking lunch on company property.
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