A Maryland firefighter was traveling to work to pick up his work mail on his motorcycle when he was injured in an accident. Maryland’s high court has ruled that he will be allowed to receive work comp benefits.
Thaddus Roberts was injured in 2004 with a back injury. The fire department encouraged him to do physical therapy while also taking a light duty modification to his work. In 2010 while returning from physical therapy to his fire house to pick up his work mail he lost control of his motorcycle and crashed. He again filed for work comp benefits.
Montgomery County, MD courts denied his claim stating that they should not cover his workers comp claim because he was not in his scope of work. Roberts stated that he was advised by his employer – the fire department to obtain the physical therapy, he was then traveling to pick up his work related mail so therefore it was in his scope of work.
A Maryland Circuit Court further denied Roberts’ claim saying that he was only considered at work while he was at the firehouse not while commuting and were not compensable even under the “coming and going” work comp rule. Roberts again appealed the case.
On Friday the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled in a unanimous fashion that Roberts injuries from his motorcycle accident were indeed compensable. In their opinion Roberts left one work site – that being the physical therapy office to travel to another work related site – the fire house for his mail. Therefore because he was traveling to and from work sites he should be allowed to collect work comp benefits.
The coming and going rule in workers comp can become a slippy path to go on. Is traveling to and from compensable? When is it crossing the line to collect workers comp. In my opinion this is a tricky situation for any court to be ruling on. The fire department did everything that they could to keep Roberts at work, encouraging physical therapy and also giving him light duty work. I can see why the courts ruled in favor of Mr. Roberts, the practice of him collecting his mail was something that his supervisor was well aware of and he was coming from work mandated physical therapy. I do not know the extent of the injuries or the context surrounding the crash, but he was going from work site to work site so I can see how they would cover workers comp for him.
Source: MD Workers Comp Attorneys