I was hurt during my break, in the lunchroom, or at a company picnic. Could I have a workers’ comp claim?

workers' compensation for injuries occuring on breakAn employer’s insurance company is compelled to cover any employee injuries that happen in the normal course of the workday. However, it may also be liable for injuries that are not so straightforward, such as when an employee is on a break, drinking alcohol, or miles away from the workplace.

Workers’ Compensation for Injuries Outside of Normal Working Hours

Rhode Island laws generally allow employees to collect workers’ compensation for any injuries suffered “in the course of employment.” This definition is extremely broad and allows for the majority of injuries to qualify for medical costs and lost wages as long as there is a causal link between employment and injury. 

For example, employees may be owed workers’ compensation for injuries that were sustained:

  • On the employer’s premises. An injury on a lunch break may be considered work-related if it happens on employer-owned grounds (such as in a dedicated break room or cafeteria).
  • In close proximity to the job site. While an employee’s daily commute is usually not covered by workers’ compensation, workers may collect benefits if they are hurt while walking into or out of the workplace. If you were injured just before or just after your shift (such as in the parking lot or sidewalk), you are likely still covered.
  • At a work-sponsored event. In many cases, employee intoxication is an exception to workers’ compensation coverage. However, if alcohol was provided by the employer—such as at a party, mandatory work event, or lunch with a client at a restaurant—the employer may be liable for the costs of injury despite the worker’s intoxication.
  • Over several months or years. If a stroke, heart attack, or panic attack occurred on your day off, you may still collect workers’ compensation if your job contributed to high stress levels, anxiety, or physical and mental exhaustion.
  • While not fully released from job duties. Even if you had clocked out and were away from the worksite, you may be covered for an injury if you were picking up lunch for others or running an errand for the employer (such as buying additional supplies on a busy day) while on your own lunch break.

If you are unable to work because of an injury on the job, the attorneys at Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum can examine the details of your case, answer your questions, and help you through your next steps. To speak with a member of our team, simply fill out the online contact form on this page or call us toll-free at (888) 591-9976.