In general, employers must offer workers’ compensation benefits to their employees. The benefits include compensating the lost wages and paying for medical coverage. If you are a worker who sustains an injury while working, you will be eligible to file a claim under workers’ compensation benefits.

However, determining whether you were acting within the legal scope and course of employment can be tricky. The complexity is the result of too many different factors, positions, and countless tasks that can occur at your workplace at any given time.

One such complication is when you are an employee and sustain an injury while on a break. So, if you have suffered an injury during a break or lunchtime and wonder whether you are eligible to file for compensation, this post is for you.

Illness and Injury Suffered on a Break

Let us suppose you are going about with your daily routine at your workplace and sustaining an injury during your lunch break. You will naturally ask if workers’ compensation will cover your expenses because, technically, you were not performing your job duties. You were in a cafeteria having lunch.

The answer to this question is not straightforward and depends on myriads of elements that led to your accident or injury during the break time. Over many years of contemplation, the justice system in the state of California has applied different rulings to different scenarios.

Scenario 1

For example, you are an hourly paid worker who sustained an injury while taking an uncompensated break off your employer’s premises. In this case, you were not working within your scope of employment. Therefore, you will not be eligible to file a claim for injury via workers’ compensation benefits.

The reason for ineligibility is that Californian courts imply that during the break time of an hourly paid employee, the relationship between employer and employee is under a suspended state. If the employee is only getting paid on an hourly basis without any pay for the break times and sustains an injury during that time off the employer’s premises, there will be no compensation.

Scenario 2

This scenario deals with the employees who work on weekly or monthly paid salaries. In this case, whether you are on a break or not, if you were on a break and sustained an injury, the law will count it as a business-related break and consider that you were working within your scope of employment.

The reason for eligibility in this scenario is that according to California courts, a salaried employee who gets compensation or paid during break or rest period maintains an employer-employee relationship at all times. Therefore, it is logical to say that because the employer agrees to pay an employee to be on a break, all other employment terms and conditions, including workers comp benefits, will apply.

So, if you are a salaried worker at an employer and sustained an injury while you were on a break, you will be able to file a claim for the workers’ comp to cover your medical bills.


Typically, any injury that occurred while you were off the company’s premises while on a break would not enjoy any coverage under workers’ compensation. Accidents occurring during and off the premises lunch breaks usually fall under the category of “coming and going” exclusions.

This also means that the workers’ compensation benefits do not cover any injury an employee suffers from while commuting to and from work. There is an exception if you were off the premises for a job-related errand and met an accident causing injuries. Your workers’ compensation benefits will have to step in and cover the costs for treatment and other medical-associated bills.

Let us suppose that you were out buying office supplies at a warehouse and sustained an injury. In this case, carrying out your employer’s task and being in a warehouse to fulfill your job duty resulted in an injury. Therefore, your employer should extend the workers’ comp protection and must cover your medical healthcare cost.

Another example of covered injuries while on break is if your employer asked you to carry out tasks away from the premise or if you were having a business lunch with a client and sustained an injury. In either case, you should be eligible for a workers’ compensation plan.

Legal Assistance for Claims of Injury on a Break

If you are an employee of a company operating within California and your employer has denied a claim for an injury your sustained while you were on break from work, we at WCWCA can help. Such cases can be really complex, and you will need the assistance of our lawyer with years of experience in the workers’ compensation law in the state of California.

Want to know more? You can contact us for a free consultation about the value of your compensation claim. Call us on 415-218-5634.

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