When is a sales rep on the job while driving a company car? The answer can determine whether injuries received in a car crash are eligible for workers’ comp coverage.
It took appeals up to the Texas Supreme Court to unravel this case.
Liana Leordeanu was a pharmaceutical sales representative for Schering Plough.
One night she was seriously injured in a car crash while driving in a company vehicle between a client dinner and a storage unit where she said she was going to drop off samples and sales supplies and then continue home, which was across the street from the storage unit. The crash occurred before she reached the storage unit.
Leordeanu filed a workers’ comp claim which was denied on the basis that her injuries didn’t occur within the course and scope of employment.
The two sides agreed that the coming-and-going rule that excludes travel from work to home from comp coverage didn’t apply because under Texas law, travel in a company car is an exception to the rule.
Another rule, known as the dual-purpose rule, states “an employee traveling for both business and personal purposes is in the course and scope of employment only if the business purpose is both a necessary and sufficient cause for the travel.”
The insurance company argued that the dual-purpose rule applied in this case, therefore Leordeanu should not receive workers’ comp benefits.
The insurer said the sales rep would have driven home whether or not she needed to drop work supplies at the storage locker.
The Texas Supreme Court said the dual-purpose rule didn’t apply in this case, because the rule was developed for travel between work and a place other than home.
Therefore, the court ruled the sales rep’s trip was work-related and the incident should be covered by workers’ comp.
(Leordeanu v. American Protection Insurance Co., Texas Supreme Court, No. 09-0330, 12/3/10)
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