A home health aide was involved in a highway crash on the way to a patient’s home. Would workers’ comp cover her injuries?
Karen Mackey was driving from her home to a patient’s when her car slid on some ice and went off the road.
When Mackey got out of her car, another vehicle slid off the road, hitting her.
She suffered serious injuries to her ribs, knee and back. She filed a workers’ comp claim.
Her employer objected, saying her injuries didn’t occur in the course and scope of her employment.
Mackey relied on an established exception to the coming-and-going rule that says workers won’t receive workers’ comp benefits if they’re injured on the way to or from work.
The exception: if the employee has no fixed place of work.
Specifically, Mackey pointed to a previous decision in which an employee of a nursing agency was injured in a car crash while traveling to the workplace assigned to her by her employer. That worker received workers’ comp benefits.
However, the workers’ comp judge, appeal board and appeals court all found that the two cases were different, and Mackey shouldn’t receive benefits.
The nurse who received benefits in the previous case was regularly assigned to different clients. But Mackey had been assigned to the same client for 18 months.
For that reason, the court said Mackey’s assignment didn’t qualify for the “no fixed place of work” exception.
The narrow exception in Pennsylvania depended entirely upon whether the agency worker had long-term or short-term assignments. What do you think about that? Let us know in the Comments Box below.
Cite: Mackey v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board, Commonwealth Court of PA, No. 1903 C.D. 2009, 2/17/10 (PDF).