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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Driving Home From A Conference Held to Be Compensable

The employee's travel which resulted in his fatal injuries while he was driving from home in a vehicle furnished by his employer to an overnight conference outside his normal work area at the employer's request, was held to be compensable for workers' compensation purposes. The travels originated in, and furthered, the business of his employer and, thus, occurred "in course of employment." Even though the accident occurred on the way to pick up a coworker who had the same job as the employee and was also required to attend the same conference, death benefits were payable.

"As previously noted, an employee's travel between home and work furthers the affairs of the employer (the second element of the course and scope definition) because it makes employment possible. Thus, the propriety of summary judgment hinges on the definition's first element—whether the travel originated in the employer's business. There is no bright-line rule for determining whether employee travel originated in the employer's business. Rather, each situation is necessarily dependent on the facts. As a general rule, an employee's travel originates in his employer's business if the travel was pursuant to the express or implied requirements of the employment contract. This reflects the underlying policy goal of allocating to the employer and insurance carrier the risks inherent in an employee's job while leaving to the employee risks that are “shared by society as a whole and do not arise as a result of the work of the employer.” When the employer requires the employee to travel as part of its business—i.e., pursuant to the contract of employment—the risk of traveling stems from that business and properly can be said to arise as a result of the employer's business." [Cites omitted]

Zurich American Ins. Co. v McVey, No. 03–09–00666–CV, 2011 WL 1238657 )Tex. App. - Austin, 2011) Decided March 30, 2011.

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