Zurich American Insurance Co. v. McVey, No. 03-09-00666-CV (Tex. Ct. App. 03/30/11).
Ruling: The Texas Court of Appeals held that an operations manager's death was compensable because he was acting within the course and scope of his employment at the time of the accident.
What it means: In Texas, if an employee is injured while traveling to work in an employer-issued vehicle, the travel does not fall within the coming and going rule.
Summary: An operations manager for a landscaping company was required to attend a multiday leadership training conference in another city. Along the way, he planned to pick up a coworker who also was required to attend the conference. The route he took overlapped with the route he would have taken if he was traveling to the company's office in his city for his usual morning meeting with work crews. While driving to the coworker's house in a company truck, the manager was killed in a motor vehicle accident. The company's insurer denied benefits for his death. The Texas Court of Appeals held that the manager was acting within the course and scope of his employment at the time of the accident, so his death was compensable.
The court explained that the manager's travel did not fall within the coming and going rule because he was traveling in a company-owned truck. The court said that this did not mean the manager's death was automatically compensable.
The insurer argued that the manager was merely on his way to an alternate work site when he was killed. The court disagreed, stating that the manager was traveling to an overnight conference in a distant city, which was a "significant departure from his daily routine." The insurer emphasized that the manager was on the same road he would drive on when he would go to work on a regular day. The court pointed out that the company encouraged its employees to travel efficiently, so the manager was picking up his coworker. Also, it was "mere coincidence" that the routes overlapped.
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May 5, 2011
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