A worker for an oil drilling company worked with a crew that traveled to remote drill sites. He drove to a coworker's home to get a ride to the drill site from his supervisor. The supervisor drove his personal vehicle and was paid mileage because he was transporting his crew members. The worker and coworker were not paid for their travel to and from the drill site.
The worker received permission from the supervisor to get a ride home from another coworker so that he would not have to wait for other transportation. The tires on the coworker's personal vehicle were low so he aired them up before leaving the drill site. The worker rode in the passenger seat with his seat belt on. The coworker stopped once to air up one tire again. The coworker only aired up the tire halfway because he was in a hurry to get home. The worker exited to vehicle to assist and did not fasten his seat belt when he reentered the vehicle. Later, the tire blew out, and the vehicle rolled over. The worker was ejected from the vehicle and suffered injuries.
The worker filed a workers' compensation claim. The administrative law judge found that he was not entitled to benefits because his injuries did not arise out of and in the course of his employment. The ALJ found that he was not advancing his employer's interests at the time of the accident and was just traveling home at the end of his workday. The Workers' Compensation Board reversed the ALJ's decision and found the worker was entitled to benefits because the going and coming rule did not apply.
Was the board correct in granting benefits to the worker?
A. No. The inherent travel exception to the going and coming rule did not apply.
An exception to the going and coming rule applied because travel was an intrinsic part of the worker's job.
The worker's travel at the time of his injury was furthering the employer's interests.
How the court ruled: A. The Kansas Court of Appeals held that the worker was not entitled to benefits because his claim was barred by the going and coming rule. Williams v. Petromark Drilling, LLC, No. 108,125 (Kan. Ct. App. 06/07/13).
The court explained that the worker's travel at the time of his accident was not furthering the employer's interests. The worker was required to travel to different drill sites, and he was not paid for his travel.
The court said that the cause of the worker's injury was the coworker's rather than the employer's negligence.
B is incorrect. The court explained that the supervisor's travel was inherent to his employment because it furthered the employer's interests. The court said that the same could not be said for the worker. He was on a personal mission to get home sooner.
C is incorrect. The court said that there was a mutually beneficial transportation arrangement between the worker and the employer because the worker had a free ride to and from the work site and the employer did not have to pay for the crew's food or lodging or find a new crew for every drill site. However, the worker chose to ride from the drill site with the coworker instead of the supervisor.
Editor's note: This feature is not intended as instructional material or to replace legal advice.
CHRISTINA LUMBRERAS is a Legal Editor for Workers' Compensation Report, a
publication of our parent company, LRP Publications.
She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
September 20, 2013
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