Luggage injury while commuting not covered for flight attendant
Case name: Collins v. Indemnity Insurance Co. of North America, No. 04-09-00671-CV (Tex. Ct. App. 11/10/10).
Ruling: The Texas Court of Appeals held that a flight attendant was not entitled to benefits because she was not acting within the course and scope of her employment when she was injured.
What it means: In Texas, dual-purpose travel, which furthers both an employer's affairs as well as the private affairs of an employee, is generally excluded from the course and scope of employment.
A flight attendant commuted to and from work on flights operated by the airline she was employed by. The attendant was traveling with a passenger ticket on a flight to go home after her shifted ended. While seated and chatting with other passengers, she was injured when another passenger dropped his carry-on bag from the overhead bin onto her head. The attendant sought benefits. The Texas Court of Appeals held that she was not acting within the course and scope of her employment, so she was not entitled to benefits.
The flight attendant admitted that the boarded the flight to commute home. The court stated that even if she was furthering the airline's affairs by boarding the flight, her travel would be dual-purpose travel. The attendant did not present evidence that she would have travelled on the flight even if she was not commuting home, so the court found no evidence that she was acting within the course and scope of her employment.
The attendant argued that her travel fell under the access doctrine because the injury occurred on the airline's premises and the airline showed its intent that she boarded the flight by issuing her a ticket. Under the access doctrine, a worker suffers an injury in the course and scope of employment when she is injured using a route or area so closely related to the employer's premises as to be fairly treated as part of the premises. It does not cover injuries arising out of risks that the traveling public generally encounters. The court found that the attendant's injury resulted from a risk she encountered as a member of the travelling public, rather than a risk derived from her employment.
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January 20, 2011
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