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Can I Receive Workers' Compensation Benefits If I’m Injured On My Lunch Break?

Our attorneys break down the factors that can impact your case

When it comes to workplace injuries in New York, the coverage provided by workers' compensation benefits is relatively clear-cut. However, what happens when you get injured during your lunch break? Does workers' compensation still cover your injury-related expenses, or are there specific rules and regulations to navigate such cases?

The nuances of these rules can be confusing, and seeking legal help is essential to understanding your rights and ensuring you receive the compensation you deserve. At Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano, LLP, our experienced New York workers' compensation attorneys understand the intricacies of such situations, including injuries sustained during lunch breaks. We are here to provide you with the guidance and support you deserve to navigate this challenging process effectively.

Am I eligible for workers’ comp benefits if I’m injured during my lunch break?

The New York State Workers' Compensation Board has established rules and regulations that determine eligibility for workers' compensation benefits. These rules encompass various scenarios, including injuries sustained during an employee's lunch break.

There are two distinct situations in which workers' compensation often covers injuries occurring during a lunch break. First, if your lunch break injury occurs in your employer's designated breakroom, you typically qualify for workers' compensation benefits. Second, if a co-worker is responsible for causing your lunch break injury, you may be eligible for these benefits.

However, there are instances when workers may not be eligible for workers' compensation benefits if their injury occurs during a lunch break. The key differentiator often hinges on whether an individual is considered to be on duty or officially on a lunch break. Understanding these distinctions is crucial to determining your eligibility for workers' compensation benefits in such cases.

What is considered a lunch break at work?

First, it’s important to understand what’s legally considered a lunch break in New York and who’s legally entitled to take one. The New York State Department of Labor has strict rules regarding what’s considered a lunch break.

Under the state’s “Day of Rest and Meal Periods” rules, most employers must provide a 30-minute unpaid meal break to anyone who works more than 6 hours consecutively. In essence, if you work at least 6 hours per day in New York, you are entitled to a 30-minute unpaid lunch break. These regulations ensure employees have adequate time to rest and refresh during their workday.

Are there exceptions to New York State’s lunch break laws?

While New York generally mandates a 30-minute unpaid lunch break for most employees working over 6 consecutive hours, there are exceptions outlined in Labor Law Section 162. Understanding these exceptions is crucial, as they may impact your eligibility for workers' compensation benefits in the event of a lunch break injury. These exceptions include:

  • Factory workers are entitled to a 60-minute lunch break between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. if they work more than 6 hours in a single day.
  • Factory workers must receive a 60-minute lunch break in the middle of their shift if it starts between 1 p.m. and 6 a.m., provided they work at least 6 hours in a single day.
  • Non-factory workers must have a 30-minute lunch break between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. if they work at least 6 hours a day.
  • Non-factory workers must be granted a 45-minute lunch break during their shift if they begin work between 1 p.m. and 6 a.m. and work a minimum of 6 hours a day.

When are employees on duty during lunch?

This distinction is crucial, as being on duty during your lunch break can impact your eligibility for workers' compensation benefits if you sustain an injury. Examples of situations where employees are considered on duty during their lunch break may include:

  • Running a work-related errand at the request of your employer or supervisor
  • Participating in a work-related workshop or training during your lunch break
  • Engaging in any work-related tasks or duties during your lunch break, such as reading an employee manual as instructed by your employer or supervisor.
  • Meeting with a client for work-related purposes during your lunch break.

If any of these scenarios apply to your situation and you are on duty during your lunch break when you are injured, you should generally be eligible to receive workers' compensation benefits in New York.

When to contact a workers’ compensation attorney

Navigating lunch break injuries and understanding how they are covered by New York's workers' compensation system can be a complex and confusing process.

At the Law Offices of Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano, LLP, our New York workers' compensation lawyers are here to assist you every step of the way. With decades of experience handling a wide range of legal cases related to workers' compensation claims, including those involving on-duty status during workplace injuries, we are well-equipped to fight for the outcome your case deserves.

Put your trust in a law firm that puts your needs first. Contact us and schedule an appointment to learn more about your potential legal options. We have 12 offices conveniently located in New York, including five offices in New York City.

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