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Employee In Work-Related Crash Entitled to Workers' Compensation

The Texas Supreme Court recently held that a traveling saleswoman was entitled to workers' compensation payments after she was injured while driving her company car. American Protection Insurance Co. argued that the woman should not receive workers' compensation because she was driving to an office that was also her home.

The woman was severely injured in a car accident on Loop 360. She was in a coma for three months and required 26 surgeries to rebuild her skull and face. The woman sought workers' compensation coverage for her injuries.

The insurance company denied the woman's claim stemming from the 2003 accident, claiming that driving home is not considered working and was therefore not in the scope of her employment.

In an 8-1 decision, the Texas Supreme Court disagreed, ruling that the woman was injured while performing work-related duties. Specifically, the Court pointed out that she was driving from a dinner sponsored by an employer to an employer-provided storage facility. From there, she was planning to drive to her home office to complete some paperwork.

Justice Nathan Hecht admitted that traveling home from work is usually not considered to be an activity within the scope of employment. However, he found that traveling from one workplace to another, which also happens to be home, is within the course of employment.

The decision is expected to have implications for many Texans who maintain home offices. The woman expressed relief over the decision, and said she was glad the decision could protect more employees who work from home.

Source: "Woman improperly denied insurance in work-related crash, court rules," Chuck Lindell, 3 December 2010

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