Case name: McDaniel v. Helmerich & Payne International Drilling Co., No. 2101112 (Ala. Civ. App. 03/30/12).
Ruling: The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals held that a worker was entitled to benefits because he was a traveling employee at the time of his accident.
What it means: In Alabama, a traveling employee is one who is geographically limited by the necessity of being available for work on the employer's job site.
Summary: A worker for a drilling contractor was staying in a crew trailer provided by the contractor at a job site. He began his workday with a safety meeting and was instructed to travel to a different job site to work on a rig. He drove on a muddy and foggy road in the woods. At the end of a gravel road, his vehicle slid through a stop sign, and a truck collided with his vehicle, causing him injuries. He sought workers' compensation benefits. The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals held that he was a traveling employee and was entitled to benefits.
The court concluded that a worker's status as a traveling employee was not limited to those working as a traveling salesperson or a long-haul truck driver. The court explained that the worker was required to drive from his home in Louisiana to report to the job site in Alabama in order to keep his job. He was "geographically limited by the necessity of being available for work" on the contractor's job site. Regardless of whether he was required to stay in the crew trailer, the contractor provided one and invited the worker to stay in the trailer free of charge. The court found that he was within the course of employment at the time of the accident because he was within the contractor's prescribed territory, between the two locations in which he worked.
The court pointed out that the worker had not departed on his own personal enterprise at the time of the accident. He awoke at one job site and was driving to another. His presence in Alabama was beneficial to the contractor. The hazards of the route, which had been specified by the contractor by the placement of the crew trailers and location of the rig, became the hazards of his employment. The court concluded that the worker's injury was causally connected to his employment.
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May 31, 2012
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