Washington, DC (WorkersCompensation.com) – In many states and the District of Columbia, an employee may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if he or she is injured while taking a paid lunch break. But how much do employees’ personal choices about where to eat and how to get there affect the validity of a claim?
The answer to this question comes from the case of a UPS driver who rented a moped to buy a bagel. The driver was going to meet a friend for lunch at the store. The driver could have gone to the nearby 7-11, but he hated going there, and the bagel shop was pescatarian friendly. But there was a catch: the parking spot was a mile and a half from the parking spot.
So the driver rented an electric scooter and on the way to the bagel place he crashed and injured his leg.
The Remuneration Audit Committee awarded the driver compensation benefits, and the company filed an appeal.
The appellate court noted that for an occupational accident to be compensable, it must occur in connection with and during the course of employment.
Was the leg injury repairable?
Answer: No. It wasn’t due to employment.
B. Yes. It arose as a result of and during employment.
If you chose A, you agreed with the court in UPS v. Brodgon, No. 21-AA-0560 (DC App. Ct. 07/20/23), which held that the damages were too mitigated by the employment of the drivers to arise from this.
First, the court acknowledged that the visit to the bagel shop was not purely personal in nature. The court noted that the employee was paid for his lunch break. Moreover, the transient nature of his job put him in a position where he could be expected to go to lunch. At the same time, the trip was clearly not work-related, considering he had a meeting with a friend and could eat closer to his truck.
The court therefore applied the neutral risk compensation standard: it asked whether the employee’s injuries would not have occurred if the conditions and responsibilities of his employment placed him in the position in which he was injured.
The court answered this question in the negative, stating that the trip was too distant to be work-related and was rather personal in nature. The employee had other, closer lunch options, even if he didn’t like them. He chose the bagel shop because he liked it and already had plans to meet a friend there. He decided to rent a moped because the store was too far.
[The driver] incurred risks; the court wrote that it did not simply happen to him while in his position because of his employment.
The court overturned the Management Board’s decision.
#unfortunate #moped #ride #bagel #shop #due #employment #UPS #drivers #WorkersCompensation.com
Image Source : www.workerscompensation.com