Employee Driving Company Truck to Job Site Not “In the Course and Scope of Employment” Under Workers Disability Compensation Act

The Court of Appeals (in a 2-1 majority opinion) issued a significant case yesterday, albeit unpublished, holding that an employee driving a company vehicle to a job site location in another part of the state was not “in the course and scope of his employment” when injured in a traffic accident while en route to the job site.

The Court of Appeals opinion is here:  Little, et al. v. Kappen Tree Service, et al. COA (1).

The Court of Appeals cites the general rule that ordinarily injuries received while employees are traveling to and from work are not compensable by the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance coverage because such injuries do not “arise out of and in the course of” employment within the meaning of the Michigan Workers Disability Compensation Act (WDCA), MCL 418.101, et seq.  MCL 418.301 requires for an injury to be compensable it must both “arise out of” and occur “in the course of employment”.

The Court of Appeals reasons that the employee faced no special risks other than those faced by the ordinary commuter to and from work.

Judge Hoekstra dissents.  He reasons that the employee was performing a “dual purpose” and therefore an exception to the “going to and coming from” exclusion applied.   The “dual purpose” was the employee bringing another employee to the job site so that employee could drive another vehicle home the day of the accident.  Judge Hoekstra would have found that the employee was “in the course and scope of his employment” and therefore covered by workers compensation, rather than no-fault automobile liability insurance.

This is an important case given the many disputes between no-fault automobile liability insurers and employers and their workers’ compensation insurers when an accident occurs in a vehicle while the employee is traveling to or from work, or driving his or her vehicle during the work day.

If anyone has questions regarding this decision, please contact Carson J. Tucker, JD, MSEL at (734) 218-3605.

 

 

 

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