An employer encouraged carpooling when some of its workers didn’t have transportation to work. Is the company now on the hook for workers’ compensation benefits after a fatal car crash?
Janelle Riley worked for Labor Ready, an employment agency.
On March 16, 2004, she received a ride to work from a co-worker because she didn’t have transportation to the work assignment.
On the return trip, with the co-worker driving, Riley was killed in a car crash.
The administrator of her estate filed for workers’ comp death benefits on behalf of the deceased worker’s two minor children.
The estate argued that because Labor Ready assumed responsibility for transporting its employees to and from their temporary job assignments, this crash occurred within the scope of the deceased worker’s employment.
The court disagreed and ruled that the estate should not receive death benefits.
The court’s opinion noted:
- the vehicles used for transport weren’t owned by Labor Ready
- Labor Ready had no contract to transport its employees
- the company didn’t pay any driver to transport employees, and
- on the day of the crash, the Labor Ready employee who drove wasn’t working.
Generally, travel to and from work isn’t considered to be within the scope of employment. However, an accepted exception is when the employer takes responsibility to transport its employees.
However, the court didn’t consider encouraging carpools to be the same as providing transportation. Workers’ comp benefits denied.
What do you think about the court’s decision? Let us know in the Comments Box below.
Cite: Davis v. Ready, Appellate Div. of the Supreme Crt. of NY, No. 507678, 1/21/10.