Some break-time injuries may be covered under Illinois workers’ compensation insurance, just as though you were in the middle of a job task. Under certain circumstances, even where you are doing something that is for your own personal needs, like eating or using the restroom, an accident could be considered employment-related.
Generally to be covered under workers’ compensation, you need to be engaged in the work of your employer at the time of the accident. But when you are taking a break for some expected activity that involves your own personal comfort or health, you are still actually serving the needs of your job. In order to properly perform your job duties, it is necessary to eat, use the bathroom, warm up or cool off, and other such activities. For this reason, these are not necessarily considered to be off-the-clock.
A recent Illinois workers’ compensation case is a perfect case for showing how personal comfort activities can be covered as work time. It involved a firefighter who was required by his job to complete paramedic training at a particular hospital. The employer paid for the training and any expenses. He was able to take this course during his regular shift time. The firefighter was injured while hurrying to the cafeteria for a quick breakfast break while he was at the hospital for the training. He was moving fast so he would not miss any ambulance calls. Also, he slipped, because the stairway was littered with spilled food from other workers rushing from the cafeteria for emergency situations.
All the parts of this fact situation fit well within the considerations for a break-related accident being counted as a work-related accident for workers’ compensation coverage. The firefighter was where he was because he was required to do the training; and he was required to do it at that particular place. His employer was paying for the activity as well. He was taking a brief break for eating, which is a necessary act of personal comfort. The actual accident was caused by two things, both which were related to the emergency nature of the job: his rushing quickly down the stairs; and the spilled food that he slipped on.
If he had done something to cause the accident that was unusual or not expected by his employer, the outcome might have been different. But here, everything that the firefighter did before and during the accident was expected and related to his job duties. In situations like these, even activities that are part of a break, do not necessarily break the chain from being work-related for workers’ compensation coverage.
We are workers' compensation attorneys that help people with Illinois work injuries anywhere in IL via our statewide network of attorneys. Contact us and we will answer your questions or find the right lawyer for your situation.