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Maine: “Volunteer” Driver is No Employee—Injury Claim Denied

December 15, 2017 (1 min read)

In a case presenting an issue of first impression in Maine—whether a mileage reimbursement to a “volunteer” can constitute remuneration when it is significant enough to exceed the volunteer's immediate expenditures—and therefore establish that the driver is actually an employee—the Supreme Judicial Court of Maine affirmed a decision of the Workers' Compensation Board Appellate Division that found the driver was not an employee and, therefore, could not recover workers’ compensation benefits related to a vehicular accident. Noting that the driver for the non-profit transportation services agency had signed a document indicating that he was merely a “volunteer,” the Court stressed that in spite of the fact that the driver’s reimbursement rate—$0.41 per mile, the same rate set out by the IRS for employees—exceed his direct costs in providing the service, it did not amount to remuneration. The Court acknowledged that it could conceive of a case, where the reimbursement rate for mileage was so high, or the receipt of other benefits so great, that a reasonable interpretation of the Act would compel the Court to conclude that the reimbursement for those services constituted payment for services. Those facts did not exist here, however. Citing Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the Court added that the payment received by the driver was not the sort of remuneration that would signify employee status.

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is the co-author of Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law (LexisNexis).

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance.

See Huff v. Regional Transp. Program, 2017 ME 229, 2017 Me. LEXIS 259 (Dec. 12, 2017)

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 65.01.

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