Injuries from repossession of vehicle at work parking lot not compensable
Sentry Insurance Co. v. Hamlin, No. 1D11-1041 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 09/23/11).
Ruling: The Florida District Court of Appeal held that an employee was not entitled to benefits for his injuries when his car was towed out of his employer's lot during a repossession.
What it means: In Florida, injuries are not compensable if the risk giving rise to the injury is personal in nature.
Summary: A sales associate was working when his supervisor informed him that a tow truck was near his vehicle in the company parking lot. The associate went outside and spoke with the tow truck driver who told him he had orders to repossess the car. The associate called his bank who told him to remove his personal items from the vehicle. While the associate was collecting his personal belongings from the car with his body partially in the car and his feet on the ground, the tow truck driver drove off. The associate was dragged and run over by the truck, causing injuries. The associate was paid for his time outside in the parking lot. He sought benefits. The Florida District Court of Appeal held that he was not entitled to benefits because his injuries did not arise out of his employment.
The court considered whether the injuries arose out of a risk incidental to work, explaining that mere presence at the workplace does not mean an injury arose out of employment. The associate was not taking part in an act of personal comfort when he was injured. The court said that recovering property from a repossessed vehicle is not the type of activity associated with creating a "refreshed" employee. The associate was "carrying out a mission that was purely personal."
The associate was also not acting in an emergency. There was also no evidence that the associate believed he was responding to an emergency. He said that his recovery effort was not related to work or an emergency but that he was retrieving his personal items because the bank told him to.
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November 10, 2011
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