Well, this blog has gone neglected for quite a while. Not by choice, but due to my health. A few months ago, I was driving to a continuing education seminar roughly five hours away. I was running late and so I never stopped for a snack or a beverage. Shortly after I arrived at the seminar, I noticed I had developed a minor cough. In the following weeks, that cough turned more serious and culminated in my being hospitalized for a week in critical condition with blood clots that nearly killed me. I am still on blood thinners which affect my energy level, but its time to have enough energy to work on this blog. And what better subject that to discuss the compensability of injuries occurring while driving to and from someplace for work. Yesterday, the Texas Supreme Court addressed this very issue in the case of Leordeanu vs. American Protection Insurance Company, 2010 WL 4910133.
Generally, an injury is compensable if it occurs while the employee is in the course and scope of employment. However, course and scope of employment does not include transportation to and from the place of employment unless the transportation is furnished by the employer, under the control of the employer, or the employer is directed by the employer to proceed from one place to another place. Also travel is not excluded from course and scope of employment merely because the travel also furthers the employee’s personal interests that would not, alone, have caused her to make the trip.
In Leordeanu, a pharmaceutical salesperson, who officed out of her home, drove her company car to business appointments, then to a business dinner. On the way home she was in a serious car accident. The question was whether or not the car accident occurred in the course and scope of employment or was the travel excluded. The lower court ruled that while the travel was furnished by her employer, her travel home from her business appointments was purely personal and therefore not covered. The Supreme Court reversed the lower court by reasoning that such an analysis would cause coverage to exist only in cases where the employee is traveling to someplace and not returning. As a result, the Supreme Court clarified the law in this area which deals with legal doctrines known as the ” coming and going rule” and the “dual purpose rule.”
The Supreme Court clarified the Labor Code’s enactment of these rules as follows: for the coming and going rule, the Supreme Court stated that this rule applies only to travel to and from the place of employment. The other, the Supreme Court said, applies to “other dual-purpose travel.” In other words, Leordeanu was returning from a company appointment but it was still company business that caused her to be on the roadway. As such, it was compensable.
As for my issue of developing blood clots while attending a continuing education seminar, I didn’t mention that it was also my mother’s birthday and I had driven several hours out of the way to visit her. Aside from proving that the blood clots were caused by the drive, deviating from my route such as I did to visit my mother would take my travel out of the course and scope of employment.