If I fell at work while on lunch break, which applies – worker’s comp or customer personal injury?

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If I fell at work while on lunch break, which applies – worker’s comp or customer personal injury?

I work for a large department store chain in Portland, OR. I had just clocked out for lunch, went to get food, and slipped on my way out. I have injuries to my knee, ankle, foot, and ribs. They are treating it as a worker’s comp claim but there was confusion as to whether it is worker’s comp or to be treated as a customer injury. I I would like to know which is true.

Asked on August 24, 2012 under Personal Injury, Oregon

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Worker's comp applies to injuries caused by work--e.g. by your duties, by the equipment you use, by your coworkers while at work, etc. If you were on a break, then you would not get workers's compensation even if the accident occured on your employer's property.

You also may not be entitled to compensation on a negligence (customer personal injury) basis. A store does not act as the insurer for people on its property. The store is only liable for a person's injury if the store  or its staff were negligent, or unreasonably careless, in some way, and that caused the injury. Examples of this include not cleaning up water spills after they've become aware of them, so someone slips; having loose tiles or boards in the floor that trip someone; an employee running and bumping into someone, knocking them down; etc. However, if the store did nothing to cause you to slip, they would not be liable and would not owe you anything.


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