Missouri: Temporary Benefits Awarded To Commuting Supervisor

Missouri: Temporary Benefits Awarded To Commuting Supervisor

An employer must provide benefits in a temporary award to a supervisor injured while driving to his office in a company-owned vehicle, according to the Commission in Jansen v Jackson County, 2014 Mo. WCLR Lexis 55 (lexis.com), 2014 Mo. WCLR Lexis 55 (Lexis Advance) (April 16, 2014), reversing a denial of benefits.

The narrow issue of statutory interpretation raised by the parties was whether 287.020.5 (lexis.com), 287.020.5 (Lexis Advance)  barred any recovery.

"Injuries sustained in company-owned or subsidized automobiles in accidents that occur while traveling from the employee's home to the employer's principal place of business or from the employer's principal place of business to the employee's home are not compensable."

The Commission found the employer failed to show that claimant was traveling to its principal place of business to invoke the defense.    The employer had many offices and the claimant worked in the Lee Summit facility which did not include offices for administrative functions, collection, HR, finance and purchase.   Applying strict construction, the court considered the exclusion of accidents in company owned vehicles did not apply because the location was not the "employer's" principal place of business.  The employer showed where claimant customarily worked but the location was not where it conducted  its principal affairs.

The ALJ and Commission left unresolved whether the accident itself arose out of an in the course of employment. 

Source: Martin Klug, Huck, Howe & Tobin. Read Martin Klug’s Mo. Workers’ Comp Alerts.

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