Spellman v. Christiana Care Health Services, No. S11A-08-001 RFS (Del. Super. Ct. 05/17/12).
Ruling: The Delaware Superior Court held that a home health aide was not entitled to compensation for the injuries she sustained in a car accident while driving home from work.
What it means:
In Delaware, a worker who is injured while she is traveling home after clocking out of work is not entitled to benefits.
Summary: A home health aide used a telephonic system to check her schedule, clock in and out of appointments, and record travel and mileage reimbursements. She visited two clients and clocked out so she could go to a doctor's appointment. On her way home to freshen up before going to the doctor, she sustained serious injuries in a car accident. The aide sought workers' compensation benefits. The Delaware Superior Court held that she was not entitled to benefits.
The court explained that under the going and coming rule, compensation is not paid for injuries sustained while a worker is traveling to or from work because every driver experiences the same risks while driving. The aide did not fit into exceptions for workers sent on a special errand for the employer or for workers who are continuously on call. The personal comfort exception also did not apply to the aide because she was driving home at the time of her accident.
The aide argued that the exception for a worker whose trip serves both a personal and a professional purpose applied to her because her accident occurred on the same road she would have traveled if she were going to her next appointment. The court disagreed, finding that her purpose for traveling was strictly personal. She was driving home and had clocked out of work.
Another exception to the going and coming rule exists for a worker who works at various temporary job sites, is dispatched to job sites at times and places designated by the employer, and does not report to a fixed site every day. The court said that the employer's payment of her travel expenses would have brought her within this exception, but she was not paid for her expenses because she was clocked out and on a personal trip home at the time of the accident.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
August 2, 2012
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