You work hard during your shift to earn a living, so getting injured during a meal break could cause significant hardship. Since you were on a break, you may be wondering if workers’ compensation will help you out. In some cases, you could qualify for benefits.
In general, employees can receive workers’ compensation benefits for injuries that arise out of the course and scope of employment. This is a legal requirement included in the Minnesota workers’ compensation laws. (Minn. Stat. § 176.011, subd. 16.) If you get injured during a time when your employer has no control over your actions and your managers are not responsible for supervising you, your injury does not meet this requirement.
Employers in Minnesota must allow employees at least one break for every eight hours worked that is long enough to eat a meal. (Minn. Stat. § 177.253.) In addition, employees must have enough time every four hours to visit the restroom. (Minn. Stat. § 177.254.) Meal breaks do not have to be paid. There are also federal laws on meal and rest breaks that may affect how often you have to take a break.
Often, employers establish a scheduled 30 minute meal break period or similar. During meal breaks, employees are usually not paid and usually not supervised by their employers. If you were injured during a break like this, you might not qualify for workers’ compensation because your injury did not arise out of the course and scope of your employment. However, if any of the following are true, you may have a case for benefits:
- You were injured on your employer’s premises in a lunchroom or break area
- You were injured during a paid break
- You attended a work-sponsored lunch meeting where you were injured
- Your employer requires you to eat lunch at your work location
- You went off-site to a business meeting and were injured on the way or while there
- You were injured while walking to your car in an employer-owned parking garage.
Whether you can receive workers’ compensation benefits depends greatly on the circumstances of your injury. In the last example above, the Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals found that the injury did arise out of the course and scope of employment, even though the employee had just clocked out and was leaving work. She was injured on an icy sidewalk on her employer’s property that led to the parking garage. (Hohlt v. Univ. of Minn., No. WC15-5821, February 3, 2016.)
Because eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits is so fact-specific for workers injured on breaks, you probably need a lawyer to help you. Your lawyer can fight the insurance company’s denial of benefits and assist you in getting paid back for medical treatments and wage losses.
Were you injured during a break from work and think you have a case for benefits? Joe Osterbauer, Esq. and the Osterbauer Law Firm stand up for injured Minnesota workers’ rights. Joe’s 27 years of workers’ compensation experience and his team’s speedy service combine to get clients the results they need. To schedule a free consultation, visit Osterbauer Law Firm online or call Joe’s office at (612) 334-3434.