Our client, a construction site supervisor, was injured off-premises at the end of his lunch break. The beginning and end of lunch were signaled by a loud horn. He and his brother traveled by car to a nearby 7-11 to purchase lunch items. They returned to the area near the worksite to eat lunch in the parked car. When the return-to-work horn sounded, our client went to the trunk of his car to retrieve his hard hat and safety harness. As he was standing there, the car behind him was struck from behind by another vehicle and pushed into him, causing him to be crushed between that vehicle and his own. He sustained significant injuries requiring a one-week stay in Ryder Trauma Center in Miami.
Initially, the workers’ compensation insurance carrier balked at accepting compensability of the injury. Its position was that since the accident happened offsite during a lunch break, it did not arise out of and in the course and scope of our client’s employment. After studying the case law and gathering more facts, the carrier reversed course.
For an injury to be compensable under Florida’s workers’ compensation system, it must arise out of and in the course and scope of one’s employment. The indicia for making this determination was articulated by the Florida Supreme Court in Fidelity & Casualty Co. of New York v. Moore, 143 Fla. 103, 196 So. 495, 496 (1940):
“ there must be some causal connection between the injury and the employment or  it must have had its origin in some risk incidental to or connected with the employment or that  it flowed from it as a natural consequence. Another definition widely approved is that  the injury must occur within the period of the employment, at a place where the employee may reasonably be, and while he is reasonably fulfilling the duties of his employment or engaged in doing something incidental to it.”
In Johns v. State of Florida, Dept. of Health, 485 So. 2d 857 (Fla. 1st DCA 1986), the claimant was assaulted in the lobby of her place of employment 20 to 30 minutes prior to the beginning of her shift. She sued her employer for negligence, positing that she was not within the course and scope of her employment when the assault occurred. On a motion for summary judgment, the trial court disagreed. The order of the trial court was affirmed on appeal.
In support of its opinion, the First DCA noted that appellant customarily arrived 20-30 minutes early to avoid being late, that the lobby was normally used by employees, and she had no personal reason for being there. The court distinguished these circumstances from those in Aloff v. Neff-Harmon, Inc., 463 So.2d 291 (Fla. 1st DCA 1984), a case in which the appeals court reversed a summary judgment for the employer where the employee stayed several hours after the closing of a bar where she was a waitress to discuss primarily personal matters with her employer.
These cases are especially fact sensitive and there is plenty of case law on the subject.
Contact us at 305-758-4900 or by email (email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org) to learn your legal rights.
Jeffrey P. Gale, P.A. is a South Florida based law firm committed to the judicial system and to representing and obtaining justice for individuals – the poor, the injured, the forgotten, the voiceless, the defenseless and the damned, and to protecting the rights of such people from corporate and government oppression. We do not represent government, corporations or large business interests.
While prompt resolution of your legal matter is our goal, our approach is fundamentally different. Our clients are “people” and not “cases” or “files.” We take the time to build a relationship with our clients, realizing that only through meaningful interaction can we best serve their needs. In this manner, we have been able to best help those requiring legal representation.
DISCLAIMER: This information provided by Jeffrey P. Gale, P.A. is for informational purposes only and is intended to be used as a non-legal guide prior to consultation with an attorney familiar with your specific legal situation. It should not be considered legal advice or counseling. No such legal advice or counseling is either expressly or impliedly intended. This information is not a substitute for the advice or counsel of an attorney. If you require legal advice, you should seek the services of an attorney.