Neither did the woman in this case. This case is not from Illinois, but for practical purposes, it could be. And if you travel for your employer, it could be about you. Because within the workers’ compensation insurance system, to be covered, you have to be at work when the injury occurs. For many employees, this is the simple part, as it may be obvious that they were injured on their employers’ premises and engaged in their work.
For instance, if a factory worker is injured or killed by a piece of equipment on the factory floor, it is clear they were “at work.” But what if they are a sales rep for a company and they are in a car accident after making a sales call? Is this part of the “course and scope” of their employment?
Typically it is, but insurance companies often like to make it difficult for injured workers. The woman, in this case, worked for Temple Independent School District, and ironically, is on the board of the entity that administers the workers’ compensation benefits for the district.
She was obligated to go to a three-day work conference, as directed by her employer. She was unlucky enough to be hit by another vehicle on the way home and suffered a horrific crash, which resulted in the amputation of part of her leg.
She was shocked when the insurer denied her claim for workers’ compensation, stating her injury was not work related. Insurance carriers often deny claims in these types of situations, because when most employees travel to and from their homes to a fixed location, workers’ compensation does not provide coverage for injuries that occur during that travel.
However, when the employer directs the travel, pays for the food and lodging and compensates the individual for the travel expenses, it is much more difficult to characterize it being as outside the scope of their work duties. Her attorney calls it a slam-dunk, but for an injured worker, facing medical bills, these types of disputes can mean financial ruin.
Source: texastribune.org, “Injured After Work Meeting, Amputee Fights Claim Denial,” Jay Root and Alana Rocha, Sept. 22, 2015