It all depends on where you live, says Tom Robinson, JD, writer for Lexis Nexis Workers Comp Law Center.
In-Home Health Care Provider Seeks Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Injuries Sustained While Traveling From One Patient’s Residence to Another
Here’s What Happened
A home health care aide was employed by a firm to provide in-home health care services to some of the firm’s clients. She traveled in her personal vehicle to the patients’ homes according to a schedule provided by her employer. She had no office at the employer’s facilities, but typically drove to the employer’s premises each Friday, where she picked up her work schedule that began the following day.
Beginning each Saturday, she drove her personal vehicle from her home to her first assignment of the day and then drove from that assignment to any other client’s home, all according to her assigned schedule. She was not paid for travel time. She had to note when she arrived and when she left each client’s home and was paid only for her time with each patient.
On the day of her injury, claimant was scheduled to visit the home of two patient/clients. She stayed at the first patient from approximately 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., then drove toward the second residence. On the way she stopped to pick up a sandwich for lunch. When she was approximately 3 miles from the first patient’s residence, she was involved in a motor vehicle accident.
She sought workers’ compensation benefits for her injuries. The employer, a self-insured firm, rejected the claim as not arising out of and in the course of the employment.
Here’s How the Court Ruled
An Ohio appellate court, in Gilham v. Cambridge Home Health Care, Inc., 2009 Ohio 2842, 2009 Ohio App. LEXIS 2400 (June 15, 2009) affirmed the trial court’s holding that claimant was a fixed-status employee and as such was subject to the “going and coming” rule.
Under that rule, an employee who sustains injury while traveling to and from a fixed place of employment is precluded from participating in the workers’ compensation fund. The appellate court noted that the accident occurred on a public highway, that the employer exercised no control over the scene of the accident, and that the presence of the employee at the scene of the accident served no benefit to the employer. (workersxzcompxzkit).
According to the court, based upon the totality of the circumstances, claimant’s travel between her first and second assignments did not establish a causal connection between her injuries and her employment.
If you, like me, fail to see how an in-home health care provider, who has no office, utilizes no facilities at her employer’s premises, and whose very service is to travel to different residences to provide care for home-bound patients can be called a “fixed-situs” employee, you may agree with a recent Pennsylvania case with similar facts and the opposite result. See Jamison v. Workers’ Comp. App. Bd., 955 A.2d 494 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2008). (Italics added.)
See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law § 14.02.
Author: Tom Robinson, J.D.
Tom Robinson, J.D. is the primary upkeep writer for Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law (LexisNexis) and Larson’s Workers’ Compensation, Desk Edition (LexisNexis). He is a contributing writer for California Compensation Cases (LexisNexis) and Benefits Review Board – Longshore Reporter(LexisNexis), and is a contributing author to New York Workers’ Compensation Handbook(LexisNexis). Attorney Robinson is an authority in the area of workers’ compensation and we are happy to have him as a Guest Contributor to Workers’ Comp Kit Blog. Tom can be reached at: email@example.com.
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