Anyone who has dealt with workers’ comp knows this: Usually, injuries during trips to and from work aren’t covered. But a state representative in Oklahoma has an interesting argument on why he should get workers’ comp for a traffic crash.
In 2009, State Representative Mike Christian (R) told police he was driving with his wife when another vehicle made a U-turn in front of him. Christian says he was unable to stop and struck the vehicle. The other vehicle reportedly fled the scene.
At the time of the crash, Christian was about three miles south of the Capitol, according to a police report.
He didn’t file a comp claim for more than a year. He tells The Oklahoman that he waited because he “thought [his] injuries may heal on their own without the expensive operation.”
Christian says his current treatment involves a series of shots directly into his spine. An operation is planned for later this year.
The lawmaker says he was “on duty” at the time of the crash because he was driving from his “duty station” — his district in south Oklahoma City — to a committee meeting at the Capitol.
“Under Oklahoma law, a legislator’s duty station is his home district,” Christian wrote in an email to The Oklahoman. “This reflects the reality that most of the work we do is done in our district.”
In support of his argument, Christian notes that state legislators are eligible for mileage reimbursement for their trips to the Capitol.
However, the workers’ comp insurance company for state lawmakers, CompSource, disputed that his injuries arose “out of or in the course of employment.” The insurer also claimed that Christian had pre-existing injuries to his back and neck.
Christian did file for and receive workers’ comp benefits twice before. The other two cases involved injuries while he was a state trooper for Oklahoma.
The newspaper reports that court records show in 1998 Christian was awarded almost $10,000 in workers’ comp for a permanent partial back injury suffered while he was a trooper.
Records also reportedly show that in 2001, Christian was awarded $15,000 in workers’ comp for permanent disabilities for a highway crash and injuries he sustained while arresting a suspect.
On top of all these facts, this case also involves some political accusations.
Exceptions to the workers’ comp coming-and-going rule aren’t all that rare. Salespeople and visiting nurses are just two types of employees who have received workers’ comp benefits for a traffic crash because their jobs take them to multiple locations each day.
So here’s the question: Do you agree with the legislator’s argument that he should get workers’ comp because he was driving from his home district, where he supposedly does most of his work, to a committee meeting in the Capitol? Let me know what you think in the comments below.