Case name: Channels v. Bureau of Workers' Compensation, et al., No. 10JE16 (Ohio Ct. App. 03/14/11).
Ruling: The Ohio Court of Appeals held that a worker's injury did not occur while in the course of and arising out of his participation in a vocational rehabilitation program.
What it means: In Ohio, a worker injured at home when he returned to continue a job search through a vocational rehabilitation program is not entitled to compensation.
Summary: A worker was injured, and he received workers' compensation benefits for his injury. He was unable to return to his job, so he enrolled in the Bureau of Workers' Compensation vocational rehabilitation program. The program required him to make 15 face-to-face contacts with prospective employers per week.
The worker went to a store to submit his resume and returned home to get a name and directions to another prospective place of employment. He said this was his typical routine.
When he got out of his truck and was walking toward his home, he fell and broke his ankle. He filed a claim with the bureau seeking workers' compensation. The Ohio Court of Appeals held that he was not entitled to benefits because his injury did not occur in the course of and arising out of employment.
The court explained that the bureau was considered the employer, the worker an employee, and his participation in the rehabilitation program was his job. However, the court said there was no causal connection, explaining that a worker who is injured at home is not injured while conducting a job search. Neither the bureau nor any potential employer controlled the premises where the worker was injured. Walking on his lawn was not a condition of, incidental to, or an obligation of his participation in the rehabilitation program.
The worker argued that his actions were similar to those of a traveling salesman. The court disagreed, stating that the bureau was not an employer in the traditional sense. The worker's action of walking into his home to get another name was not analogous to a traveling salesman. The court said that "at some point the search for employment ends."
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
April 14, 2011
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