Injury sustained while traveling home from physical therapy is compensable
Case name: Manuel v. Davidson Transit Organization, No. M2007-01580-CV-R3-WC (Tenn. Work. Comp. 09/24/08, unpublished).
What it means: Under the "street risk" doctrine, which is an exception to the coming and going rule, the risks of the street become the risks of the employment if the employment requires the employee to use the street. As an extension of that rule, the panel found that traveling to and from authorized medical treatment for a compensable injury is also compensable because the employee was on a "special errand" that subjected her to the street risks inherent in such travel.
Summary: The claimant was injured in an automobile accident, which occurred as she was driving home from receiving physical therapy for a compensable work injury. The trial court ruled that the additional injury was compensable and awarded the claimant 28 percent permanent partial disability benefits. The employer argued that the court should have applied the coming and going rule because the employee was not working when she was injured and in fact, had been terminated by the employer. The panel disagreed and upheld the compensability of the injury. Because the employee's need for medical treatment was a direct result of a compensable injury, it was a "partial continuation of the employment relationship."
The panel noted that in Carter v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 2000 WL 1234402 (Tenn. Work. Comp. 2000), a special workers' compensation panel reversed the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of an employer regarding an injury sustained by an employee in a doctor's office parking lot. After examining cases from other jurisdictions, the panel in Carter concluded that "the majority rule was that injuries which occur while traveling to and from authorized medical treatment are compensable."
Finding the reasoning in Carter to be persuasive, the panel in the instant case concluded that traveling to and from authorized medical treatment for a compensable injury should be considered a special errand that arises out of and in the course of employment.
December 16, 2008
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