Benefits granted to driller for accident on way home from work
Case name: Craig v. VAL Energy, Inc., No. 105,949 (Kan. Ct. App. 03/16/12).
Ruling: The Kansas Court of Appeals held that a driller was entitled to compensation for injuries he sustained in a car accident while driving home from work.
What it means: In Kansas, the inherent travel exception to the going and coming rule is a method to determine whether a worker already assumed the duties of employment when he was going to or returning from work.
Summary: A driller for an energy company was responsible for his crew, including picking them up and driving them to the oil rig site. He used his personal vehicle, and the company reimbursed him for mileage. The rig was broken, so the driller and his crew were temporarily assigned to a shop. After leaving the shop to drive home, the driller and one crew member were involved in a car accident. The driller was injured and sought benefits. The Kansas Court of Appeals held that his injury arose out of and in the course of employment, so he was entitled to benefits.
The court explained that the inherent travel exception to the going and coming rule determines whether travel was a required part of the job so that the worker assumes the duties of employment the moment he leaves the house until he arrived home at the end of the workday. Here, the driller was required to make sure that crew members made it to the drill site. He was reimbursed for mileage for his travel, which included picking up and dropping off his crew. Even though the work site changed temporarily, the company continued to reimburse the driller.
The court said the driller would not have been hired if he did not have the capability to drive and transport his crew. The court said that despite the temporary change in location the company and the driller received a mutual benefit from the continued transportation arrangement. Therefore, the going and coming rule did not bar the driller's claim.
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May 7, 2012
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