The State of Missouri refused to provide benefits to a supervisor of a state- run home for abused children, claiming her shoulder injury from a fall on an uneven surface was not a compensable accident when she was walking at work and she did not stay on the pathway but stepped on the grass instead and cut a corner. The Commission affirmed an award of benefits, rejecting the “notion” that walking outside a designated pathway was not arising out of or in the course of employment. The decision did not indicate any safety policy or rule prohibiting taking short-cuts off of a designated pathway or that claimant’s path was a detour or frolic. The case is Williams v State of MO, DOLIR 8-19-10.
The Commission affirmed unanimously an award of $101,746 for the undisputed accident. The award included 40% disability rating following two shoulder surgeries, based on claimant’s expert, as the state offered no contrary medical evidence. The award included also approximately $61,000 in medical bills submitted through claimant’s group health. The state offered no evidence to challenge the reasonableness of the bills.
The court of appeals previous rejected a similar defense in Doerr v Teton Transp., 258 S.W.3d 514 (Mo. App. 2008), and found that a truck driver did not deviate from his employment merely by taking an alternate route, even if the employer directed a different direction. In Doerr the parties disputed whether other employees departed from a suggested route. Doerr is not discussed in the award.
Source: Martin Klug, Huck, Howe & Tobin. Read Martin Klug’s Mo. Workers’ Comp Alerts