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Lunch break injuries may be eligible for workers' comp benefits

When a Connecticut resident files a claim for workers' compensation benefits, the first question is whether the injury was related to the claimant's employment. When the injury occurs at the place of employment, the answer is usually not disputed, but when an injury occurs away from the workplace or during a time when the employee is not expected to be on duty, the answer may be more complex. In a recent case, the Workers' Compensation Review Board ruled that an injury sustained during a lunch break but in the course of fulfilling a work-related task was compensable.

The claimant was a "floating" customer service representative for a Connecticut bank. She ordinarily received a 30-minute lunch break. On the day in question, the woman was asked by her superior to travel to another branch bank to replace a worker who became ill. Because the time of the request came late in the morning, the woman decided to stop at a drive-in restaurant for lunch on her way to the other bank. While waiting in line at the drive-thru window, the woman's car was struck by another vehicle, and she suffered arm, shoulder and hand injuries.

The woman's employer and its workers' compensation insurer refused to pay benefits because they argued that the injury took place during the woman's regular lunch hour and was therefore not work-related. Relying on the bank's own rules regarding payment for travel time during the work day and the fact that the bank would benefit from the woman traveling from bank to bank, the Review Board ruled that the woman's injuries were work-related and that she was entitled to workers' compensation benefits.

This case demonstrates the kinds of arguments that are often advanced by employers or insurance companies to avoid paying benefits. Anyone who faces opposition to a claim for benefits by the employer or its insurance company may wish to consult an experienced workers' compensation attorney for assistance in pursuing the claim.

Source: Connecticut Workers' Commission Board of Review, "Dias v. Webster Financial Corp.," accessed on March 11, 2018

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