Comp awarded for accident during trip home to retrieve work access card
Case name: Parks v. Marsden Bldg Maintenance, L.L.C., No. A-11-610 (Neb. Ct. App. 04/17/12).
Ruling: The Nebraska Court of Appeals held that a supervisor was entitled to benefits because his car accident arose out of and occurred in the course of his employment.
What it means: In Nebraska, an injury arises in the course of employment when it takes place within the period of the employment, at a place where the worker reasonably may be, and while the worker is fulfilling work duties or doing something incidental to his work duties.
Summary: A janitorial supervisor for a building maintenance company arrived at work, clocked in, and realized he left his lanyard with his identification badge and access card at home. He left the building to return home to get them. On his way back to work, he was involved in a serious car accident and sustained a traumatic brain injury, spinal fractures, a ruptured spleen, and rib fractures. He sought workers' compensation benefits. The company disputed that the accident arose out of and occurred in the course and scope of the supervisor's employment. The Nebraska Court of Appeals held that he was entitled to benefits.
The court concluded that the accident arose out of the supervisor's employment. He was not traveling home for matters of personal convenience or comfort, but out of what he thought was a necessity arising from his employment. He understood that he was required to carry his identification badge and access card with him at work. The access card was employee specific, and workers were not allowed to share the cards. He needed the access card to complete his duties. The supervisor said he was never told that he was not allowed to leave work to retrieve the access card or that he had to first contact his manager. The court said that although he may have deviated from his employment regarding its policy of getting permission when leaving the building the deviation was not substantial.
The accident also occurred in the course of his employment. The accident occurred after he attempted to begin his duties. He previously left the building several times to go home to retrieve his access card.
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June 18, 2012
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