Driver injured on leased premises will not receive WC benefits
Case name: Chattanooga Area Regional Transit Authority, et al. v. Coleman, No. E2008-02160-WC-R3-WC (Tenn. 12/09/09, unpublished).
In an unpublished decision, the Tennessee Supreme Court reversed and remanded the trial court's decision, holding that the worker's injury was not compensable.
What it means: In Tennessee, an employee is not acting within the course of employment when she is going to or coming from work unless the injury occurs on the employer's premises.
Summary: A bus driver on break walked to a nearby building to use the ATM. She fell while returning to her building and injured her ankle. The property where she fell was owned by her employer but was leased to an unrelated third party. The employer argued her injury did not arise out of or in the course of her employment. It noted she was off the clock and had left its premises on a personal errand. The Tennessee Supreme Court agreed, finding the driver had left her workplace on a purely personal errand and had not yet returned to the employer's premises. The court explained that in cases where an employee is injured while en route to or from work, the injury is in the course of employment if it occurs on the employer's premises or a necessary route between the facility and the areas provided for employee parking. Once she departed from the employer's premises and began traveling on personal time, the employee was no longer in the course of employment.
The court recognized that the employer owned the property where the ATM was located but did not find any affiliation between the employer and the ATM owner other than landlord and tenant. It concluded that mere ownership of the property did not make the employer liable.
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February 4, 2010
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