Bookkeeper's accident while taking lunchtime stroll not covered
Capote v. Ortopedia Cubana y Clinica del Pie Inc., 17 FLWCLR 118 (Fla. JCC, Tampa 2010).
Ruling: A Florida judge of compensation claims held that the claimant's accident during his lunch break while crossing a street did not arise out of and in the course of his employment.
What it means: For purposes of determining compensability of lunchtime accidents, lunch breaks should not be treated the same as personal comfort breaks.
Summary: A bookkeeper was injured during his unpaid lunch break, when he was struck by a vehicle while crossing a street. The claimant would regularly spend 10 to 15 minutes eating his lunch at his desk and then take a walk outside. The judge of compensation claims found that the accident was not compensable. The JCC rejected the notion that lunch breaks should be treated the same as personal comfort breaks. Lunch periods were more akin to trips to and from the place of employment at the beginning and end of the workday than to acts involving personal comfort, such as getting a drink of water, using the restroom, or smoking.
Generally, an employee's travel to and from his regular place of work is not compensable. Exceptions to the general rule include a special hazard encountered on the employee's normal route and when the employee travels between two parts of the employer's premises. The JCC rejected the argument that the accident was compensable under the rule's exceptions. The JCC noted that no witness was able to describe the actual route the claimant followed when he took his walks. Also, there was no evidence that the claimant followed the same route each time he took his walks or that he was traveling between two parts of the employer's premises.
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October 19, 2010
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