Are You Smarter Than a Workers’ Compensation Attorney?

As we all know, to be compensable under Ohio Workers’ Compensation law an injury must have occurred “in the course and scope of employment”.  Both parts of the test must be met. The Ohio Supreme Court developed a two part approach to the course and scope of employment analysis.

To determine whether an injury occurred “in the course of” employment, the courts look to the time, place, and circumstances of the injury.   To meet this part of the test, the injury must have occurred while the employee was engaged in a required employment duty or activity which was both consistent with the employee’s contract for hire and logically related to the employer’s business. Ruckman v. Cubby Drilling, Inc., 81 Ohio St.3d 117 (1998).

To determine whether an injury “arose out of” employment the courts seek to determine whether there is a sufficient causal connection between the employment and the injury. This depends on the totality of the facts and circumstances surrounding the accident. Fisher v. Mayfield at 277, quoting Lord v. Daugherty, 66 Ohio St.2d 441(1981).  The “totality of the circumstances test” requires the court to look at: the proximity of the scene of the accident to the place of employment; the degree of control the employer exercised over the scene of the accident; and the benefit the employer enjoyed as a result of the employee’s presence the scene of the accident.

Don’t shoot the messenger please.  This is just the way the basic test is set forth in the case law.  Admittedly it seems sort of like looking at the same object twice through different sets of eyeglass frames with identical prescription lenses in them.  There are many, many, many side considerations as well.  However, perhaps the best way to understand the way Ohio courts treat the issue is to look at some specific factual scenarios.

Here’s a quick quiz.  Take a look at the following factual scenarios, and decide whether the injury occurred in the course and scope of employment.  Some scenarios are more detailed than others.  For some cases I provided case cites, and for others I didn’t.  If for some reason you really want to see all of the case cites feel free to e-mail me. The examples (17 total) are numbered, and the answers are at the end.

  1. An employee who was injured traveling to a hotel from a restaurant. The employer paid for the employee’s food, lodging and transportation.
  2. A truck driver who was injured while staying in lodging provided by his employer for required rest breaks. At the time of his injury, the truck driver had left the hotel and was crossing the street to go to a restaurant.
  1. A flight-attendant completed her flight for the day. She checked into a hotel near the airport, and after going to dinner with other employees, she fell on a public sidewalk while returning to the hotel.
  1. An employee slipped and fell in the shower room of his hotel while attending an out-of-town seminar.
  1. An employee was injured as a result of a fight that occurred at the hotel where he was required to stay by the employer.
  1. A “guest service representative” at the Cavaliers home court, Quicken Loans Arena, was walking to the arena on his way to work and was injured after he slipped and fell on the floor in an enclosed, indoor walkway.  Cavaliers Holdings, LLC provided the employee with a parking pass that allowed him to park for free in a lot connected to the arena by the walkway.
  1. An employee injured while walking on a picket line.
  1. A terminated employee injured while picking up a paycheck six days after the termination.
  1. A claim filed by one of two employees who got into a fight at work over beer. No, I am not making this one up.
  1. An employee was told by his supervisor to get a piece of equipment.  Another employee refused to turn over the equipment, and the two men got into an argument.  One employee then struck the other over the head with a shovel.
  1. An employee pulled into the company parking lot and got into an altercation with a non-employee who was dropping his wife off at work.
  1. Two employees engaged in horseplay that resulted in spilled coffee. One employee then left to work on his personal vehicle, with his employer’s permission, and the other employee assaulted him.
  1. A grocery store employee who fell on a cart ramp at the entrance to the store where she had come to work before she clocked in.
  1. An employee attacked by a co-worker in front of a nursing home before starting the shift.
  1. An employee who slipped and fell in the parking lot upon return from a personal errand and before clocking in.
  1. A Ohio Highway Patrol trainee who was injured while playing basketball at a training facility after formal training hours ended.
  1. An employee injured while taking a shower in the employer’s locker room.

So there are your 17 cases, in celebration of the 100th post on Employers’ Workers’ Compensation Law Blog.  And here are the answers.

  1. This injury was “compensable” under the workers’ compensation system. Duncan v. Ohio Blow Pipe Co. (1998) 130 Ohio App.3d 228.
  1. This injury was “not compensable” under the workers’ compensation system. According to the court, the truck driver was on a personal errand and “was not engaged in activity that benefited [his employer] or furthered its business.” Cline v. Yellow Transp., Inc., 2007-Ohio-6782.
  1. Not compensable. The location of the accident was too far removed from the employee’s last performance of her business duties; and the employer did not receive any particular benefit from the fact that employees traveled to restaurants during off duty hours. Osten v. Bur. of Workers’ Comp., 2017-Ohio-9315.
  1. Knox v. Administrator (1998), 125 Ohio App.3d 313.
  1. Madsen v. CCI Supply, Inc. 2008 Ohio 4396.
  1. Not compensable, Parrish v. Cavaliers Holdings, LLC, which was decided by the 8th Appellate District in January of this year. The employee was not performing his job duties when the injury occurred.  The court found that the employer did not benefit from his presence at the scene of the accident, so the “totality of the circumstances” test also did not make the injury work related.
  1. Not compensable.
  1. Not compensable.
  1. Not compensable. Although the fight occurred on the job site, the disagreement did not involve a work-related matter because the argument resulted from a personal dispute over beer.  Lowe v. Cox Paving, Inc., 2010-Ohio-3816.
  1. Compensable, because the dispute arose from a work related matter. Comm. v. Pora (1919), 100 Ohio St. 218.
  1. Not compensable because the dispute leading up to the assault was not related to employee’s work duties. Garner v. Ohio Bur. Of Workers’ Comp., 2018-Ohio-3398.
  1. The employee who was assaulted received workers’ compensation benefits for his injuriesMeager v. Complete Auto Transit, Inc., 1992 WL 41831.  The court’s basis for that decision was that the injury occurred on the employer’s property, and that the employer allowed the employee to work on his personal vehicle while at work.
  1. Compensable, because the employee was in the “zone of employment” at the time the injury occurred.
  1. Compensable, because the employee was in the “zone of employment” at the time the injury occurred.
  1. Compensable, because the employee was in the “zone of employment” at the time the injury occurred.
  1. Compensable. Griffith v. Miamisburg, 2008-Ohio-6611.
  2. Compensable.

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