Comp allowed for driver's accident while stopping for bathroom break
Case name: LVL, Inc. v. Ragsdale, No. CA12-607 (Ark. Ct. App. 02/06/13).
Ruling: The Arkansas Court of Appeals held that a driver was entitled to temporary total disability benefits and medical expenses.
What it means: In Arkansas, a worker's restroom break during work hours is a necessary function that advances an employer's interests.
A truck driver who was transporting mail had been driving for two hours of an 11-hour trip when he began slowing his truck to turn in to a truck stop. An 18-wheeler hit him from behind. He sustained injuries to his left knee, right hip, and back. He stated that he was required to stop every two hours to do a "walk-around" to ensure the truck was safe to continue driving. He also made stops to get food or go to the bathroom.
The driver told a state trooper and a dispatcher for the employer that he was stopping to get cigarettes. The driver later explained that he was planning on buying cigarettes, using the bathroom, and checking his tires. The Arkansas Court of Appeals held that he was entitled to benefits.
The court found that the driver's injury occurred within the time and space boundaries of his employment and that he was serving the employer's business interests. The driver asserted that, when the accident occurred, his truck had not left the roadway. The court pointed out that a restroom break was a necessary function that directly or indirectly advanced the employer's interests.
The employer argued that the driver's testimony on why he was going to turn in to the truck stop was inconsistent and not credible. Because the court found that he was performing necessary functions that directly or indirectly advanced the employer's interests, the court did not address the employer's argument that his purpose for attempting to stop was to buy cigarettes and that act was not an employment service that advanced the employer's interests.
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May 21, 2013
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