The Board in this case decided whether or not an employee on a business trip was injured in the course and scope of her employment. The injured worker was at a meeting as part of her job duty, and when walking back to her car, suffered an injury in a parking lot. The ALJ at hearing found that claimant was in the scope and course of her employment. In doing so, the ALJ determined that the injured worker was a “traveling employee.” The employer appealed, arguing that because claimant had finished her work for the day, she should not be considered a traveling employee. Instead, the employer argued that the “coming and going” rule should apply, and because the injured worker was leaving her job, the injury occurred outside of her employment.
Generally, an injury is covered under the workers’ compensation statute when it occurs in the course and scope of employment, and arises out of employment activities. There is a rule called the “coming and going rule.” This rule basically states that if an employee is injured while he or she is coming to or going from work, that injury occurs outside of the course and scope of employment, and is not covered under the Worker’s Compensation statute. This rule, however, has many exceptions.
One exception is called the “traveling employee” rule. This rule applies when the employee’s work involves traveling away from the employer’s business. This rule applies even if the travel is local, and limited. Although the rule does broaden the coverage for traveling employees, if the employee is engaged in an activity that is not reasonably related to their travel status, then the claim is not compensable, and can be denied. However, an employee does not actually have to be “working” to be covered, because the travel is part of the employment, and any injury that occurs is result of the risk of an activity (travel) that is necessary to carry up to work responsibilities.
In this case, the worker was determined to be a “traveling employee.” The next question the Board tackled was whether or not the injured worker was departing from work activity in on a personal errand when she fell. The employer argued that the injured worker was at a non-profit board meeting, and as a result, was on a distinct departure from her work related travel. However, the Board looked that the injured worker’s job duty description, which required participation what non-profit groups to maintain relationships among stakeholders involved with claimant’s job duties. Further, the Board found that the employer received benefit from the employee’s participation in these activities.
We have handled cases where the insurance carrier denied our client's claim, claiming that our client was not "at work" when the injury occurred. These cases can often require a lot of research and investigation. If you have a workers’ compensation claim denial involving course and scope issues, call us at 503-325-8600. We know how to investigate these claims.