Can You Claim Workers Comp Benefits in Tampa if You’re Hurt at Lunch?

In order to receive workers compensation benefits, your Tampa workers comp attorney will have to prove that you meet certain criteria. One of these criteria is that your injuries occurred while you were acting within the scope of your employment. If you were on break or having lunch, it will be difficult to prove that this was the case.

Here, we’ll explain how Florida’s workers compensation laws handle these situations. If you still have questions about your own claim, feel free to contact our office directly.

Your Tampa Workers Comp Lawyer Must Prove That You Meet the Criteria for Benefits

Not everyone qualifies for workers compensation benefits. You have to meet certain requirements, or your injuries won’t be covered. What your Tampa workers comp attorney will have to do is demonstrate that you meet the following criteria:

  • You must have been acting within the scope of your employment at the time of your injury.
  • You cannot be under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of your workplace accident.
  • You must report your injury to your manager or Human Resources within thirty (30) days.
  • You must agree to be treated by a state-approved workers compensation doctor.

Of course, this list is not exhaustive. However, there are the main requirements. If you meet these criteria, there’s a good chance your claim will be approved.

You Must Have Been Acting Within the Scope of Your Employment at the Time of Your Injury

Florida Statute §440.09(1) states that an employee must be acting within the scope of their employment at the time of their accident to receive workers compensation benefits. In most situations, workers compensation won’t pay benefits or cover your medical care if you’re hurt during your lunch or break.

Now, there are times when you take a “working lunch.” If this is the case, all your attorney will have to do is demonstrate that you were technically working at the time of your accident.

Can Your Workers Comp Attorney Demonstrate That It Was a Working Lunch?

What your workers compensation lawyer will have to show is that you weren’t on a bona fide lunch. They’ll have to show that, instead, you were performing work-related tasks despite the fact that you were on lunch or break.

There are several ways they can support this position:

  • Statements from coworkers who saw you working while on lunch or break
  • Camera footage showing you engaged in work-related tasks during the time you were clocked out for lunch
  • Statements from your managers that their employees are often expected to work through their lunch break
  • Copies of emails or interoffice instant messages that support your claim that you were working through your lunch or break

Your workers comp attorney will gather whatever evidence they can to prove that you were acting within the scope of your employment. If they’re able to do this, there’s a much better chance of your claim being approved.

an employee injured during a working lunch

Most Injuries That Occur During Lunch or Break Are Not Covered by Workers Compensation

Your Tampa workers’ compensation lawyer will try to prove your claim is valid. However, you must understand that most injuries that occur during an employee’s lunch are not covered by workers compensation insurance.

These cases are decided on a case-by-case basis. The presumption is that you aren’t entitled to benefits. Your Tampa workers comp attorney will have to find some way to overcome this presumption.

Your Lawyer Must Overcome This Presumption

It will not be easy for your attorney to overcome the presumption that your claim isn’t payable. The burden will be on your Tampa workers compensation lawyer to prove that this isn’t the case.

There are some situations in which an employee’s workers’ comp claim was, in fact, approved despite the fact that they were on lunch. Some examples of this include:

  • You are leaving the office to pick up lunch. Your manager asks you to stop at your company’s second location to pick up a file. On the way back to the office, you get into an accident and suffer extensive injuries. In this situation, your employer will likely be liable for your injuries and your claim should be approved.
  • You normally take your lunch at your desk. In fact, you received an email from Human Resources indicating that all employees are required to be available to take client calls while on lunch. You are on a call with a client and fall out of your chair, thereby injuring your wrist and back. Your injuries should be covered by workers’ compensation.
  • You are eating lunch in the company cafeteria. While on a bona fide lunch break, you’re called to your manager’s office to discuss a client complaint. While there, you slip and fall and break your leg. Your employer may have no choice but to approve your workers’ compensation claim.

Whether your claim will be approved depends on the circumstances of your workplace accident. Your attorney will work hard to get you the benefits you deserve.

Contact a Skilled Tampa Workers Comp Attorney Immediately After Your Workplace Accident

Many employees don’t realize that their injuries won’t be covered by workers compensation if they were hurt while on lunch. They assume that, as long as they’re on company property, they’ll be entitled to benefits.

Sadly, this isn’t the case. Your Tampa workers compensation lawyer will need time to convince the insurance company that you deserve benefits. The longer you wait, the harder it will be.

We suggest you contact our office today at 954-833-5226 to schedule your free, initial consultation.