Employee Injuries Caused by Food or Drink Purchased at the Company

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 What Is Personal Injury Law?

A personal injury damages a plaintiff’s emotional health, physical health, or both. Mental health injuries include emotional pain and anguish sustained by an accident, such as the onset of PTSD. Physical injuries include injuries to organs, limbs, or other parts of the anatomy. The injury that is sustained by a personal injury plaintiff does not need to manifest itself instantly, as many injuries may develop over time.

In a claim for personal injury, a plaintiff claims that they have sustained an injury due to an act or failure to act by the defendant. A court may award the plaintiff money damages for personal injury in response. In some cases, the events which form the basis of a personal injury claim may also form the basis of criminal charges. An example of this would be how a defendant may face a civil lawsuit for assault, as well as a criminal assault and battery charge.

There are several different types of events or accidents which may form the basis of a personal injury claim, such as:

A personal injury may occur intentionally, such as when the defendant deliberately injures a victim, or intends to commit an act that results in injury to another person. A personal injury may also occur unintentionally. If an unintentional injury is the result of someone’s negligence, the plaintiff may file a lawsuit based on the negligent behavior. Automobile accidents, slip and fall accidents, and injuries sustained from medical malpractice, are all examples of negligence personal injuries.

In a negligence personal injury claim, the plaintiff claims that the defendant injured the plaintiff as a result of breaching a duty of care that the defendant owed to the plaintiff. If a plaintiff can show that this breach caused injury, then resulting in damages, the plaintiff can successfully claim negligence.

The duty of care that is owed to a plaintiff largely depends on the circumstances. A defendant is under a legal duty to exercise the same degree of care that an ordinary person would use under a particular set of facts.

Whether a duty of care to a plaintiff exists generally depends upon the foreseeability, or predictability, of harm that may result if the duty is not exercised. The test for whether a plaintiff is owed a duty of care questions whether an average person, in the position of the defendant, could foresee that the type of injury sustained by the plaintiff was likely to happen.

If the answer is yes, the defendant owes the plaintiff a duty of care. As such, if the defendant breaches that duty which causes an injury resulting in damages, the defendant has committed personal injury through negligence. If the answer is no, then no duty is owed, and the defendant cannot have committed negligence.

Is Food Poisoning From An Employers’ Cafeteria Covered By Workers’ Compensation?

Workers’ compensation is a state-mandated insurance program which provides compensation to employees who suffer injuries while on the job. An employee who is injured while on the job is guaranteed these benefits, regardless of who was at fault.

However, in return for workers’ compensation benefits, employees usually forfeit their right to sue their employer in court for damages for their injuries. In this way, the rules governing workers’ compensation are different than for other personal injury matters.

Simply put, workers’ compensation is a process in place of a judicial personal injury claim against the employer. Its purpose is to provide compensation for disability or death that may result from an occupational injury.

Workers’ compensation benefits most commonly include:

  • Replacement income;
  • Medical expenses;
  • Rehabilitation expenses;
  • Long-term or lump sum pension if you are permanently unable to work as the result of your injury; and
  • Temporary disability pension while you are unable to work.

Employers are liable through workers’ compensation for any personal injury of an employee during the course of their employment. In workers’ compensation matters, the primary issue generally questions whether the injury occurred during the course of employment. However, when an employee suffers food poisoning after eating at the employers’ cafeteria, courts have considered many different factors when determining whether the employee may recover through workers’ compensation. These factors include:

  • Whether The Employer Has Supplied The Food Or Drink To Their Employees: In cases in which the food causing the injury was supplied by the employer as part of the employee’s wages, it has generally been held that the injury arose out of and in the course of employment. When a certain amount was deducted from employees’ wages for food during employment, courts have held that any injury from that food can be addressed through workers’ compensation;
  • Whether The Employer’s Cafeteria Or Other Service Was Strictly For Employees: When the employer directly sold food to its employees through a cafeteria or other service, which was strictly for the use of employees, it has been held that any injury or illness suffered by an employee as a result arises during the course of employment. As such, workers’ compensation is considered to be a valid remedy to resolving these issues.
    • However, when the employer’s restaurant serves the general public, injury to the employee caused by such food is not a workers’ compensation case. This is because the employee was not required to eat in that specific restaurant; and/or
  • Whether The Employee Was On An Official Food Break: When the employee purchased food or drink from the company during an official rest break, any injury from the food has been held to have arisen out of employment. When an employee was not given meals as a condition of employment, or was given any time off for meals, an injury suffered while eating a meal purchased from an independent source is not within the course of employment.

What Else Should I Know About Workers’ Compensation In General?

In order to satisfy workers’ compensation requirements, you must be an actual employee of your employer. What this means is that you are not an independent contractor. Additionally, your injuries must be work related.

In order to receive workers’ compensation, you must promptly report your injury to your employer. Some states require notice within 2-30 days following the injury. However, if an injury or illness results over time, you must report it as soon as you realize that it was caused by your work.

You will also need to obtain medical treatment. and follow the doctor’s instructions. Afterwards, you should file your claim with your employer’s insurance carrier. It is important to note that your employer must provide insurance claim forms; additionally, you will need to save all copies of paperwork throughout the process.

Common injuries covered by workers’ compensation include:

  • Repetitive stress injuries;
  • Illnesses or diseases that are a gradual result of work conditions;
  • Traumatic physical injuries;
  • Repeated trauma injuries;
  • Mental injuries when they are associated with physical injury; and
  • Occupational diseases.

Injuries that are not covered by workers compensation include:

  • Self- inflicted injuries, such as injuries to you when you cause a fight;
  • Injuries resulting from the commission of a serious crime;
  • Injuries caused when your conduct violates company policy;
  • Injuries received while intoxicated or under the influence of illegal drugs; and
  • Injuries when you were acting in a reckless manner.

Additionally, several classes of workers are not entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits:

  • Business owners;
  • Independent contractors;
  • Federal employees, under the state’s scheme;
  • Domestic employees in private homes;
  • Farm workers;
  • Maritime workers;
  • Railroad employees; and
  • Unpaid volunteers.

Do I Need A Lawyer For Help With Employee Injuries Caused By Food Or Drink Purchased At The Company?

If you have suffered an injury caused by food or drink purchased at your company, you should speak with an experienced attorney immediately. You may need to speak with either a workers compensation attorney, either of which can help you understand your legal rights and options according to your state’s specific laws.

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