For purposes of workers’ comp benefits, just what constitutes an injury “arising out of and in the course of employment”? A court recently issued an interesting interpretation of that phrase.
Terry Henry worked at Precision Apparatus, a company that builds ambulances and fire trucks.
Each morning before his shift, he’d arrive early to arrange his tools and prep for the workday.
The company also allowed employees to work on their personal vehicles before work, at lunch and after hours.
One morning, Henry arrived early for his usual routine. He hadn’t filled in his time card yet.
A co-worker pulled his personal vehicle into a garage bay to fix a flat tire. Henry heard someone say the vehicle was going to roll off the jack, so he went outside to get a rock to keep the truck from moving.
When he went outside he tripped and broke his leg.
He applied for workers’ comp benefits. The Missouri Labor and Industrial Relations Commission said the injury didn’t occur in the course of work and rejected his claim. Henry appealed.
The Missouri Court of Appeals upheld the Commission’s decision. It said helping a co-worker didn’t qualify as work.
However, the court also wrote in its opinion, that some injuries at work before an employee clocks in are eligible for workers’ comp benefits.
“The Commission could have found that [Henry] was working for the employer when he was arranging his tools and at his workbench if the injury had occurred at that time. Had the Commission found a compensable injury occurred at his workbench, but prior to [the start of his shift], we would accept the Commission’s factual determination.”
Bottom line: This state accepts the idea that if an employee is injured “off the clock” while performing tasks in the workplace that benefit the employer, that worker may be eligible for workers’ comp benefits.
What do you think about the decision regarding Henry and the court’s statement on when workers’ comp benefits kick in? Let us know in the Comments Box below.
Cite: Henry v. Precision Apparatus, Missouri Court of Appeals, No. 29772, 2/16/10.