June 13, 2014

Injury suffered on the way to work not typically viewed as “arising out of and in the course of employment”


Injury suffered on the way to work not typically viewed as “arising out of and in the course of employment”
Trotman v New York State Cts., 2014 NY Slip Op 03002, Appellate Division, Third Department

A senior court officer [Officer] was injured shortly before the beginning of his work shift when he slipped and fell on ice. The incident occurred on a public sidewalk that he was traversing to reach the government center after parking his car on the street.

Although the Workers' Compensation Law Judge established the claim, the Workers' Compensation Board denied his ensuing application for workers' compensation benefits, finding that his injury did not arise out of and in the course of his employment. Claimant now appeals.

The Appellate Division affirmed the Board’s determination explaining that "Accidents that occur on a public street away from the place of employment and outside working hours generally are not considered to arise out of and in the course of employment." As Officer’s accident occurred near his place of employment, his claim falls within "a gray area where the risks of street travel merge with the risks attendant with employment and where the mere fact that the accident took place on a public road or sidewalk may not ipso facto negate the right to compensation." 

In contrast, said the court, in order for such an injury come within the ambit of eligibility for workers' compensation benefits, the injury must result from "(1) a special hazard at the particular off-premises point and (2) a close association of the access route with the premises, so far as going and coming are concerned."

Further, said the court, the fact that Officer was directed to travel to another court facility after he arrived at work on the day in question “does not compel a different result.”
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