Claims adjustor wins benefits while traveling between appointments
Case name: Doutrich v. Donegal Insurance, 27 PAWCLR 225 (Pa. W.C.A.B. 2012).
Ruling: The Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Appeal Board affirmed the workers' compensation judge's decision awarding medical benefits to a field claims adjustor who was traveling between appointments when she was injured while assisting in clearing the road of aluminum siding that fell from another vehicle.
What it means: In Pennsylvania, an employee who reports to the employer's office every morning but regularly leaves to attend appointments in a company car can be considered a traveling employee.
Summary: A field claims adjustor for an insurance company reported to the employer's office every morning and would then leave and attend appointments. She was provided with a company car. She was traveling between appointments when she stopped at a traffic light and aluminum siding in the pickup truck in front of her slid onto the road. She offered to assist in clearing the road. She slipped and fell, injuring her thumb and knee. The WCJ awarded benefits, finding that the adjustor was a traveling employee and that her actions were not so far removed from her usual employment as to constitute abandonment. The board affirmed the WCJ's decision.
Upon review, the board found no error in the WCJ's finding that the adjustor was injured in the course and scope of employment. The board rejected the employer's contention that the adjustor was not a traveling employee but rather had a fixed place of work to which she reported every day and only traveled as necessary. Further, the adjustor's act of generosity in helping to clear the obstruction from the road in front of her car was reasonably incidental to her employment, which is all that is required of a traveling employee.
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March 11, 2013
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