Guard's accident on public road while driving to work not compensable
Case name: Arnold v. Rose Acre Farms, Inc., No. 93A02-1109-EX-874 (Ind. Ct. App. 03/27/12).
Ruling: The Indiana Court of Appeals held that a security guard was not entitled to benefits because his injury did not occur within the course of his employment.
What it means: In Indiana, a worker's injuries in an accident on a public road are generally not compensable because the public road is open to all members of the general public and the hazards and danger of his accident were common to everyone using the public road.
Summary: A night security guard for a farm was driving from his home to work on a public road. As he was making a left turn onto a gravel road that served as the entrance to the farm, he was struck by a truck. The collision occurred on the public road, but the vehicles came to rest partially in the farm's driveway. The guard sustained multiple injuries, including broken bones and cognitive impairment. He sought workers' compensation benefits. The Indiana Court of Appeals held that he was not entitled to benefits because his injuries did not occur in the course of his employment.
The guard recognized that the accident did not occur in the farm's parking lot, private drive, or easement. However, he argued that the public road was an extension of the farm's operating premises. He pointed out that anyone going to the farm had to use the public road to access the farm's driveway. Although the farm's property line went to the center of the roadway, the court found the public road was not part of its premises. The farm had no control over the use of the road even if it owned the soil underneath the road. The court also explained that everyone using a public road experienced the hazard occasioned by a left-hand turn against traffic.
The court concluded that the guard was not injured in the course of his employment when he traveled to work on a public road.
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May 31, 2012
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