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Woman awarded compensation for lunch break fall injury

When a worker in the state of North Carolina is injured on the job, it may be possible for the injured worker to seek benefits via a workers' compensation claim. There are many reasons these claims are not automatically accepted however. One of those reasons is the determination that the injury occurred while the worker was doing something outside the scope of his or her job. The North Carolina Court of Appeals recently ruled on this very topic.

A woman who fell during a lunch break, aggravating a previous knee injury, sought workers' compensation benefits. She slipped on a piece of ice lying on the floor near the bathroom from which she was exiting. The ice was from a nearby ice machine. The woman's employer sought to deny the claim based on the theory that it did not occur in the course of her employment. It alleged that the incident occurred while she was on a break, on a different floor from where she worked.

The North Carolina Court of Appeals determined that the woman was in fact entitled to workers' compensation benefits for the injuries she suffered in the fall. There were several reasons supporting that decision including the fact that:

  • The injury occurred within her work hours
  • Her employer "essentially controlled," the building in which the incident occurred
  • The fall happened in an area of the building deemed to be a common area

As this case illustrates, it is not always easy to recoup workers' compensation benefits. For this reason it is often a good idea to work with a workers' compensation lawyer.

Source: Risk and Insurance, "Comp allowed for representative's fall during unpaid lunch break," Feb. 11, 2013

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