In a recent case before a Georgia appellate court, the court considered whether an employee who was injured while leaving for a lunch break was entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. According to the court’s opinion, the employee was working as a seamstress. One day, the employee took a lunch break and as she was walking out to her car, she tripped on the sidewalk and was injured. She sought workers’ compensation benefits under Georgia’s Workers’ Compensation Act.
A judge decided that she was entitled to benefits under the “ingress and egress rule” and because she was on a scheduled lunch break. The employer appealed, and the State Board of Workers’ Compensation reversed the decision, finding the employee was not entitled to benefits because the injury occurred while she was on a scheduled break. The employee appealed, and after an affirmance from the superior court, the employee appealed again to the Georgia Court of Appeals.
Injuries Covered by the Workers’ Compensation Act
To be entitled to benefits under the Workers’ Compensation Act, a worker’s injury must arise “out of and in the course of employment.” This means generally that injuries must occur at work and while performing the duties of the job. Georgia courts have created exceptions to this general rule, including the ingress and egress rule and a scheduled-break exception. The ingress and egress rule allows claimants to recover benefits if an employee is injured while going to or coming from work, as long as the employee is still on the employer’s premises. The scheduled break exception allows claimants to recover benefits if an employee is injured during a regularly scheduled break.