Workers’ compensation claims can happen in the weirdest ways. However, they are not always compensable.
Recently, Florida 1st District Court of Appeals opined that the Judge of Compensation Claims was right in denying a lock technician’s claim for workers’ compensation benefits while being “on call.” The case was about an employee whose employment required him to be in an ‘on call waiting to be engaged’ status during his shift. The employee was only compensated for the time spent responding to a call and could pursue his own interests between calls. Apparently, one of his own interests between calls is answering to nature’s call and going to the bathroom. On the date of accident, claimant testified he was on the way to a service call when he stopped at a vacant lot to relieve himself. He contends that during his return to his vehicle, he stepped into a hole, fell to the ground and sustained the injury which was the subject of the workers’ compensation claim. The employer denied that the injury occurred within the scope of the employee’s employment.
The Judge of Compensation Claims was apparently provided evidence of a sophisticated computer monitoring and dispatch system which generated service logs for the date on which claimant alleged the accident occurred. The logs contradicted the injured employee’s suggestion that he was on the way to a service call at the time of accident. Based upon the evidence presented, the Judge of Compensation Claims ruled that injured worker was not in the course and scope of his employment. Furthermore, even if he had been in the course and scope of his employment, his choice to engage in the improper conduct of public urination was a clear deviation from employment which prevented him from receiving workers’ compensation benefits. The First District Court of Appeals affirmed the decision per curiam.
If the fall occurred inside a local restaurant’s bathroom when the injured worker was in route to a call, I believe the conclusion would be different. The Florida workers’ compensation law allows for some deviation from employment without negating workers’ compensation benefits. So, if you or a friend or family member is denied Florida workers’ compensation benefits, it is important that you talk with an attorney who understands Florida Work Comp law.
Attorney Matthew Noyes represents those injured at work and fights for Florida workers’ compensation. His Clearwater law firm – Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes – has been caring for clients for 57 years. Call Attorney Noyes today at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.