Receptionist secures benefits for injuries while on errand for 'boss'
Case name: Chatagnier v. 1st A Southeast Incs, L.L.C., No. 2012 CA 1314 (La. Ct. App. 04/26/13).
Ruling: The Louisiana Court of Appeal held that a receptionist was entitled to benefits for her neck and back conditions.
What it means:
In Louisiana, a worker's work-related accident is presumed to have caused her disability when she proves that before the accident she did not have symptoms, and after the accident, the disabling symptoms manifested and medical evidence indicates a reasonable possibility of a causal connection.
A senior team leader/receptionist received a call from an employee based in another office, asking her if she could pick up a canister from a store for her. The employee, who the receptionist considered to be "second in command" and "a boss," mentioned that she and the company owner forgot to pick it up the previous day. The employee did not say what the canister was for. The receptionist went out to lunch with a coworker, and instead of returning to the office, she went to the store to pick up the canister. Her vehicle was rear-ended while she was stopped at a traffic light. She sustained injuries to her head, neck, and back and sought benefits. The Louisiana Court of Appeal held that she was entitled to benefits for her neck and back conditions.
The court found that the receptionist was acting in the course of her employment. Although the employee later said that she asked the receptionist to go on a personal errand, the receptionist did not know the canister was for personal use. The receptionist believed she was on a specific mission for the company.
The court also found that the receptionist's injuries were causally related to the accident. Although she had been in motor vehicle accidents and injured her knee, she had not previously been diagnosed with a permanent cervical or lumbar disk condition. MRIs of her spine after the work accident showed disk bulging.
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August 5, 2013
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