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A unique court case illustrates the special errand exception

Workers’ compensation protects employees injured on the job. However, according to the “coming and going rule,” an employee is usually not covered while traveling from home to the workplace and back.

On the other hand, circumstances may exist in which an employee can be deemed eligible for workers’ compensation if travel time relates in some way to work. One such circumstance is the “special errand exception.”

Details of a case in Idaho

In 2013, Barbara Kelly sustained an injury at work and received workers’ compensation benefits. A month later, her employer’s insurer, the Idaho State Insurance Fund, scheduled an Independent Medical Evaluation for her. Ms. Kelly kept the IME appointment at the doctor’s office, but got it a car crash on the way home that was not her fault. She suffered serious injuries, but the Idaho Industrial Commission determined that she was not eligible for compensation because her injuries were not related to her work.

The outcome

Ms. Kelly appealed and won her case. The court ruled that she was on a “special errand” for her employer. By attending the IME appointment that the company’s insurer had made for her, the court noted that Ms. Kelly was doing something outside the realm of her personal, day-to-day duties. She had an obligation to attend or risk losing her workers’ comp benefits. The company was also paying her travel expenses, so in essence, she was acting for her employer. In reaching its decision, the court said that if it had not been for her initial work injury and the subsequent IME appointment requested by the insurer, she would not have been at the specific place and time that the car accident happened.

Seeking just compensation

The rules governing workers’ compensation benefits are complex; the special errand exception is only one anomaly, but you can rely on an experienced attorney to know them all. If you have suffered an injury that you believe makes you eligible for filing a claim, do not hesitate to reach out for legal assistance.

 

 

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