You Be the Judge: Is This Parking Lot Injury Compensable?
A seamstress for Bremen-Bowdon Investment Company parked in a lot owned by the employer. In order to get to and from the parking lot, she had to walk down a public sidewalk and cross the street.
On the date of the injury, the seamstress left her workstation for her regularly scheduled lunch break and planned to drive to her home. Bremen-Bowdon’s employees were allowed to leave the workplace and do whatever they wished during this regularly scheduled lunch break.
As she walked to her car, the seamstress tripped on the sidewalk and was injured. She sought workers’ compensation benefits, including temporary total disability benefits beginning the day after her injury, payment of medical bills, designation of a certain doctor as the authorized treating physician, and attorney’s fees.
The administrative law judge concluded that the seamstress was entitled to benefits under the ingress and egress rule as a scheduled lunch break. Bremen-Bowdon appealed.
The State Board of Workers’ Compensation reversed the ALJ’s award, concluding that the seamstress’s injury did not arise out of her employment because it occurred while she was on a regularly scheduled break.
Did the board properly deny benefits to the seamstress?
- A. Yes. The ingress and egress rule does not apply when a worker is injured while leaving or returning to work for a regularly scheduled lunch break.
- B. No. The injury occurred on Bremen-Bowdon’s premises.
- C. No. The injury occurred while the claimant was on a break where she was free to do whatever she chose.
How the Court Ruled
B is incorrect. The fact that the seamstress was on Bremen-Bowdon’s premises when she was injured did not mean that she was automatically entitled to benefits.
C is incorrect. The court found that ingress and egress rule does not extend workers’ compensation coverage to cases in which the worker is injured while leaving and returning to work on a regularly scheduled lunch break.
A is correct. In Daniel v. Bremen-Bowdon Investment Co., No. A18A1764 (Ga. Ct. App. 02/26/19), the Georgia Court of Appeals held that the seamstress’s injury did not arise out of her employment.
The court explained that under the scheduled break exception, an exception to the workers’ compensation law exists for injuries occurring during a regularly scheduled lunch break and at a time the worker is free to do as she chooses.
Under the ingress and egress rule, the workers’ compensation law applies where a worker is injured while still on the employer’s premises in the act of going to or coming from her workplace.
However, while the seamstress’s case was pending, the court held in another case that the ingress and egress rule does not extend coverage to cases in which the worker is injured while leaving and returning to work on a regularly scheduled lunch break.
The court applied that case law and found that the seamstress’s trip and fall injury during a period of egress on a regularly scheduled lunch break was not compensable. &
Editor’s note: This feature is not intended as instructional material or to replace legal advice.