After-work drinking doesn't make drunk driving accident compensable
Case name: Schutz v. SAIF Corp., No. A148840 (Or. Ct. App. 11/15/12).
Ruling: The Oregon Court of Appeals held that a manager was not entitled to benefits because her injuries from a motor vehicle accident did not arise out of her employment.
What it means: In Oregon, a worker's injuries arise out of her employment if the risk of the injury results from the nature of the work or when it originates from some risk to which the work environment exposes the worker.
An office manager for a construction company went out for drinks after work with a supervisor and coworkers. The manager said that she accepted the supervisor's invitation to go out for drinks to show that she was a "team player." She drank four beers. Four hours later, she left the restaurant to drive home. She drove the wrong direction onto a freeway and collided head-on with another vehicle. She sustained severe injuries, including quadriplegia. Her blood alcohol level was 0.24 percent when she was admitted into the hospital. The manager filed a claim for workers' compensation benefits. The Oregon Court of Appeals held that she was not entitled to benefits.
The court rejected the manager's argument that her social activity was work-related because she was motivated by work-related reasons for participating in the activity. The court agreed with the workers' compensation board's finding that her injuries did not arise from her employment because the injuries did not result from the nature of her work or some risk to which her work environment exposed her. Regardless of the reasons that she went to the restaurant with her supervisor and coworkers after work, she was not exposed to the accident while she was driving home because of her employment. The court explained that the risk "arose out of factors unrelated to her work."
The court also agreed with the board's finding that the injuries did not occur in the course of the manager's employment because the injuries occurred off the company's premises, hours after she completed her work duties, and while driving her vehicle home.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
March 11, 2013
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