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Lunchtime, Off-Premises Injury Found Compensable

During her lunch break, an employee left the building in which she worked to go to her car to get a bottle of water.   In the process, she tripped and fell in a ditch and injured her back and knee.  The workers’ compensation carrier denied the employee benefits on the basis that the accident did not arise during the scope of her employment.   As a general rule, employees who sustain injuries during lunch breaks or while off-premises are not entitled to benefits.  However, in this particular case, the Judge of Compensation found in favor of the employee pursuant to the personal comfort doctrine.  The Judge noted that an employee is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if her injury occurs while she is engaged in personally motivated but reasonable expected activities such as smoking, eating, or using the lavatory.  The Judge found that in this instance the employee was engaged in the very type of activity  afforded protection by the law.  Therefore, the employer was ordered to provide the Petitioner with benefits.

Lawrence Mintz
Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Certified by the Supreme Court of NJ

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