Workers' Compensation

Larson’s Spotlight on Recent Cases: Going and Coming Rule as Tool, Not a Substantive Doctrine

Larson's Spotlight on Going and Coming, Suicide, Causation, and Disqualification for Benefits. Larson's surveys the latest case developments that you need to know about. Thomas A. Robinson, the staff writer for Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, has compiled the list below.

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DE: Going and Coming Rule Is "Tool," Not a Substantive Doctrine: Basic Issue Is Always Whether Claimant's Activity Was Work-Related

Citing Larson's Workers' Compensation Law and observing that the "going and coming" rule, and the various exceptions thereto, are not substantive doctrines mandated by the Workers' Compensation Act, but rather analytic tools, worked out by the courts over time, the Supreme Court of Delaware recently affirmed the denial of a petition for workers' compensation benefits filed by a home health aide who sustained injuries in an automobile accident following the completion of her services at a client's home.  The court indicated that the inquiry into whether an employee's injury was sufficiently work-related to be compensable under the statute should start with the terms of the employment relationship or contract as guidance for the statute's proper application in different sets of circumstances. To base a "course and scope of employment" analysis solely on those doctrines was to lose sight of the "real-world, factual context" out of which the "scope" issue arises, said the Court.  The Supreme Court noted that here an intricate analysis of the Going and Coming Rule and its myriad of exceptions was unnecessary in the case; it was clear from the employment agreement that the circumstances of the auto accident were well beyond the scope of the aide's employment.

See Spellman v. Christiana Care Health Servs., 2013 Del. LEXIS 183 (Apr. 8, 2013) [2013 Del. LEXIS 183 (Apr. 8, 2013)].

See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, §§ 13.01 [13.01], 14.02 [14.02].

 US: Ninth Circuit Says "Chain of Causation" Test, Not "Irresistible Impulse" Test, Should Be Used to Determine Compensability of Suicide under Longshore Act

Citing Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently held that a suicide, or injuries from a suicide attempt, are compensable under the Longshore Act when there is a direct and unbroken chain of causation between a compensable work-related injury and the suicide attempt; a claimant need not demonstrate that the suicide, or attempt, stemmed from an irresistible suicidal impulse. The employer had argued that since the deceased planned his suicide, the claim could not be established under the irresistible impulse test and the ALJ agreed.  The panel concluded that the administrative law judge erroneously applied the irresistible impulse test, and remanded for the Benefits Review Board to apply the chain of causation test or to remand to the ALJ so that the ALJ may have the first opportunity to do so.

See Kealoha v. Director, Office of Workers' Comp. Programs, 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 7125 (Apr. 9, 2013) [2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 7125 (Apr. 9, 2013)].

See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, § 38.03 [38.03].

LA: Claim for Acute Appendicitis From Fall Down Staircase Fails

A Louisiana appellate court recently affirmed a finding that had granted an employer police department's motion for summary judgment in connection with a claim filed by a police officer who contended she sustained injury in the form of acute appendicitis after falling down a staircase at her police station.  Noting that the claimant's medical expert had hedged in his testimony, indicating he could not say what actually had caused claimant's appendicitis, the court indicated that at best the evidence was evenly balanced between there being a work-related cause of the injury and a contrary finding that the appendicitis had no such connection.  That some medical literature indicated blunt trauma could be a cause of acute appendicitis was not controlling; that literature indicated such instances were rare.

See Garcia v. City of New Orleans Police Dep't, 2013 La. App. LEXIS 649 (Apr. 3, 2013) [2013 La. App. LEXIS 649 (Apr. 3, 2013)].

See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, § 130.06 [130.06].

LA: False Statements Made to Obtain Unemployment Compensation Do Not Disqualify Injured Worker from Continuing Workers' Compensation Disability Benefits

A Louisiana appellate court recently held that since an employee who falsely stated that he was not receiving workers' compensation benefits and certified his availability to work under La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 23:1600(3)(a) when he applied for unemployment benefits made the false statements to obtain unemployment benefits, not workers' compensation benefits, he was not disqualified under La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 23:1208 from receiving workers' compensation benefits. The fact of his work-related accident was not in dispute, and he made no false statements in applying for workers' compensation benefits.

See Fontenot v. State of Louisiana, 2013 La. App. LEXIS 621 (Apr. 2, 2013) [2013 La. App. LEXIS 621 (Apr. 2, 2013)].

See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, § 39.03 [39.03].

Source: Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, the nation's leading authority on workers' compensation law.

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