Accidents On The Way To Work, Part 2

If you haven’t read part 1 of this blog series, take a moment and get an introduction to this article by reading about Accidents On The Way To Work.


WHERE EMPLOYER FURNISHES TRANSPORTATION

One of the situations in which an injured employee may be able to receive workers’ compensation benefits for accidents on the way to work is where the Employer furnishes transportation.  If the Employer furnishes the transportation then there is a mutual benefit to both Employee and Employer, and any accident is considered to have happened “in the course and scope of his employment” and is covered under workers’ comp.  Eickhorn v. Boatright, 219 Ga. App. 895, 467 S.E.2d 214 (1996).

NOTE: If the Employee is merely given a ride as a favor, rather than in the furtherance of the Employer’s business (E.g., giving someone a ride home from work), it will not be covered.  American Mutual Liability Insurance Co. v. Carry, 187 Ga. 342, 200 S.E. 150 (1938).

WHERE EMPLOYER REIMBURSES FOR TRAVEL EXPENSES

The Employee is also “in the course and scope of his employment” where the Employer pays an identifiable amount of compensation for time spent as reimbursement for the expense of going and coming.   Adams v. U.S. Fid. & Guar. Co., 125 Ga. App. 232, 186 S.E.2d 784 (1971) (injury compensable when car pool arrangement financially supported by employer).

ON-CALL EMPLOYEES

In those cases involving employees whose hours and place of employment are fairly well-defined (i.e., not salesmen, policemen, or others who are deemed to be almost continuously within the scope and course of employment), a close analysis of the cases reveals that the “on call” status is not the determining factor.  The determining factor, again, is whether the Employer furnishes or reimburses the employee for transportation costs.  Welsh v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Co., 61 Ga. App. 635, 7 S.E. 2d 85 (1940).

See also, Mark the Mover v. Lancaster, 234 Ga. App. 319, 506 S.E.2d 673 (1998) (claim was not compensable when an employee was paged and subsequently involved in an accident on the way to work – employee was found not “on call” because he would have been driving to work at the same time even if he had not been paged and the employer did not furnish transportation as an incident of employment).

More recently in Hicks v. Heard, 302 Ga. 864, 692 S.E.2d 360 (2010), the Georgia Supreme Court clarified situations in which an employee was injured while “on call.”  In Hicks, the employee was involved in a car accident driving a company owned car used for both personal and professional use.  The employee testified that at the time of injury she was “on call” and could have been called to work at some point in the future.  However, the employee also testified that she was not performing any work at the time of injury nor had she performed any work for her employer during the preceding month.  Because of such testimony, the employee could not receive workers’ comp benefits, noting

The employee needed to show that he had been called to duty and was acting pursuant to that duty at the time of accident in order to establish that the activity was within the course and scope of his employment, and the employee was therefore entitled to workers comp benefits.

 WHERE THE TRAVEL SERVES BOTH A BUSINESS AND PERSONAL PURPOSE

Accidents that occur while an employee is going to or coming from work are compensable, if the employee is permitted or required by his employer to perform a task contemplated by the contract of employment.  See Lockhart v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co.,  141 Ga. App. 476, 233 S.E.2d 810 (1977) (employee required to bring in time sheets, as well as fellow employee).


In part 3, I will discuss the other means by which an injured employee may be able to receive workers’ compensation benefits for an accident on their way to work.

If you have had an injury on the way to work or any other work injury in Atlanta, please call us at 770-786-1095 or visit us on our website at www.gregpopelaw.com.  The initial consultation is free, so give us a call.

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