An Employee Injured While On A Regularly Scheduled Lunch Break is Not Entitled to Workers’ Compensation Benefits

By: Rayford Taylor, Esq.

On February 26, 2019, The Georgia Court of Appeals in Daniel v. Bremen-Bowdon Investment Co. ruled that an employee injured while on a regularly scheduled lunch break is not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits under the ingress and egress rule. At the time of the incident, Ms. Daniel was employed as a seamstress with the employer. Ms. Daniel parked in a lot owned by the employer, but in order to get to and from the parking lot, she was required to walk down a public sidewalk and across the street. On July 22, 2016, Ms. Daniel left her work station for her regularly scheduled lunch break and planned to drive home. The employer’s employees were allowed to leave the workplace and do whatever they wished during their regularly scheduled lunch break. As she walked to her car, Ms. Daniel tripped on the sidewalk and was injured.

Administrative Law Judge William Cain (ALJ) concluded Ms. Daniel sustained a compensable injury under the Ingress and Egress Rule while on a scheduled lunch break. The ALJ also awarded Ms. Daniel temporary total disability (TTD) benefits, her medical expenses, the ability to select her treating physician, and attorneys’ fees pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 34-9-108. The employer appealed the ALJ’s ruling to the appellate division of the State Board of Workers’ Compensation (the Board). The Board reversed the ALJ’s award, concluding Daniel’s injury did not arise out of her employment because it occurred while she was on a regularly scheduled break.

The case was appealed to the Georgia Court of Appeals which upheld the Board’s ruling. The Court ruled that because Daniel’s injury occurred while she was exiting the employer’s property during her regularly scheduled lunch break, her injury was not compensable under the Workers’ Compensation Act. The Court relied upon its holding in Frett v. State Farm Employee Workers’ Compensation, ___ Ga. App. ___ (821 S.E.2d 132) (2018) which held that the Ingress and Egress Rule did not cover cases in which the employee is injured while leaving and returning to work for a regularly scheduled break.