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Lunchtime slip and fall compensable work injury: High court

 break room

The injury suffered by an insurance claims associate who slipped and fell on a wet floor during her lunch break is compensable under Georgia workers compensation law because having lunch was “incidental to employment,” the state’s highest court ruled Tuesday.

State Farm Insurance Cos. employee Rochelle Frett logged out of the phone system for her unpaid, scheduled 45-minute lunch break and went to the breakroom where she microwaved her food. As she started to exit the breakroom to take her lunch outside the building, she slipped on water and fell, according to the undisputed case facts in Frett, v. State Farm Employee Workers' Compensation et al., filed in the Supreme Court of Georgia in Atlanta.

Ms. Frett was initially awarded workers compensation benefits by an administrative law judge. The State Board of Workers' Compensation on appeal denied her claim for workers compensation and a superior court later upheld the decision.

On further appeal, the state Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that Ms. Frett “suffered no injury compensable under the Act because she sustained her injury during a scheduled break, and her injury, therefore, did not arise out of her employment.”

The state Supreme Court reversed, concluding that Ms. Frett “sustained an injury in the course of her employment” and that it “is undisputed that she was injured on the premises of her employer, in the middle of her workday, while preparing to eat lunch. This activity, being reasonably necessary to sustain her comfort at work, was incidental to her employment and is not beyond the scope of compensability under the Act.”