Morgan’s Tip of the Week-Give me a break?


I get quite a few compensability questions about accidents that occur on breaks/lunch breaks.   Per the caselaw there is a difference between a regular “15 minute” type break and a lunch break.   The issue of whether it is a paid or unpaid break is not really the determinative issue.   The main factor in whether the break is compensable is well spelled out by Janet Jackson:

Wanna make my own decisions
When it has to do with my life
I wanna be the one in control

Don’t make me lose it
Control, Control, control, control

In general, a break is going to be compensable because the claimant remains under the control of the Employer.   Lunch breaks off-premises are usually not compensable because of the length of time out of control of the Employer.  Here are some key things to remember:

Lunch break

  • Accidents on a lunch break on-premises of the Employer, whether paid or unpaid, are usually compensable

-Claimants remain in the course and scope of employment typically, but the accident still must arise out of employment

-There can be deviations, for example: a claimant who accidently shot himself with a personal gun in the leg while on premises in his car on a lunch break was not compensable as it did not arise out of employment.

  • Accidents during an off-premises lunch break are typically not compensable, unless it was a work-related lunch, traveling employee situation, etc…


  • Accidents on breaks are typically compensable, whether paid or unpaid

-Claimants remain in the course and scope of employment typically, but the accident still must arise out of employment

  • Accidents on a break off-premises are typically compensable if the Employer allows them to leave the premises on breaks.  For example, a claimant was struck by a car crossing the street to go to a convenience store on a break was compensable as he was permitted to do so.

Of course each claim can be fact specific, and our firm would be glad to answer any questions that you may have.

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Morgan Indek | Managing Partner