Pennsylvania—Injuries Suffered by Traveling Employees
On November 17, 2021, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, in Peters v. WCAB, found that a traveling sales representative’s accident, suffered while driving home from a work-sponsored event, could have occurred in the course of employment. In its decision, the court adopted the traveling employee doctrine, which provides a presumption that traveling employees are furthering the employer’s business when they are injured while traveling after setting out on the business of the employer. To rebut the presumption, the employer must demonstrate that the employee abandoned the employment by showing that the employee’s actions were foreign and removed from the usual employment.
In this case, the court concluded that the sales representative remained in the course of employment through the work-sponsored event because, even though voluntary, the event benefited the employer by fostering relationships and improving morale. However, the court remanded the case to the lower court with instructions to make additional findings based on conflicting testimony as to whether the sales representative took some other action after leaving the event that could be considered abandonment of the employment.
On November 9, 2021, the Supreme Court of Missouri, in Brock v. Dunne, for the first time interpreted a 2012 amendment to Missouri statute 287.120.1 to determine whether an employee was entitled to immunity in a negligence lawsuit filed against him by a coworker who suffered workplace injuries. Missouri statute 287.120.1—as amended in 2012—provides coemployees with immunity under workers compensation exclusive remedy for injuries or death from workplace accidents unless the coemployees engage in affirmative negligent acts that purposefully and dangerously cause or increase the risk of injury.
The court reasoned that, under Missouri statute 287.120.1, coemployees are immune from civil liability for injuries caused on the job unless a plaintiff can establish that the co-employee engaged in affirmative conduct that constitutes at least negligence and that the coemployee purposefully and dangerously caused or increased the risk of injury through that conduct. The court concluded that the injured employee failed to present evidence that the coemployee acted with the purpose to cause or increase the risk of injury. Rather, the court found that the injuries suffered by the employee resulted from a workplace accident.
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