Georgia Court of Appeals Rules Worker Injured on Break Entitled to Workers’ Compensation Benefits

The Georgia Court of Appeals has ruled that an employee injured in a slip-and-fall accident on the way to her employer’s parking lot during her lunch break qualifies for Georgia workers’ compensation benefits. The decision reverses the court’s prior rulings due to a June 2020 Georgia Supreme Court holding that injuries suffered during lunch or bathroom breaks are considered to have occurred in the course of employment.

For more than 80 years, Georgia courts have considered breaks to be outside the regular course of employment, a main requirement for injured workers to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Last year’s Georgia Supreme Court ruling in Frett v. State Farm changed that longstanding precedent, allowing plaintiff Sheryl Daniel to pursue a workers’ compensation claim against her employer.

In Daniel v. Breman-Bowden Investment Co. et al., Sheryl Daniel tripped on a sidewalk on her way to her car in the company’s parking lot during her lunch break. An administrative law judge found that Daniel was entitled to benefits; however, the Appellate Division of the State Board of Workers’ Compensation found that Daniel’s injury did not arise out of her employment since it occurred during a regularly scheduled lunch break and reversed the award.

Applying the Georgia Supreme Court ruling from last year, the appeals court said that Daniel’s accident “resulted in an injury which both arose out of and was in the course of her employment” and therefore was eligible for compensation under the state workers’ compensation law.

The case was returned to Carroll County Superior Court for disposition.

HBL has experience in all areas of benefits and employment law, offering a comprehensive solution to all your business benefits and HR/employment needs. We help ensure you are in compliance with the complex requirements of ERISA and the IRS code, as well as those laws that impact you and your employees. Together, we reduce your exposure to potential legal or financial penalties. Learn more by calling 470-571-1007.

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