Is Accident on Way to Day Care Compensable?
A patrol officer for the New Haven Police Department worked the third shift. He took his children to a day care center for the primary purpose of sleeping. When he drove the children to day care, he followed the same route he took to work but slightly altered the route at one street.
The officer left his home for the police station in his private motor vehicle dressed in his uniform. His children were in the vehicle because he had to take them to day care. He followed his usual route to work and was involved in a motor vehicle collision. The collision occurred at a point prior to where he would have altered his route to take the children to day care. The officer’s left knee and left foot were injured. He underwent surgery and sought workers’ compensation benefits.
The workers’ compensation commissioner found that the officer’s injuries were compensable. The commissioner explained that the collision occurred within the officer’s period of employment and at a place where he reasonably may have been because he was a portal-to-portal employee on his way to work. He was fulfilling the duties of his employment by driving his vehicle to the police station to arrive at work on time. The commissioner also found that he did not substantially deviate from his employment. The Workers’ Compensation Review Board affirmed the commissioner’s decision awarding benefits to the officer. The police department appealed.
How the Court Ruled
The court explained that an officer is a portal-to-portal employee, so his commute to and from the police station was within the course of his employment.
A is incorrect. The court explained that an injury does not arise out of the employment if it is sustained at the worker’s home and while he is engaged in preliminary acts or acts in preparation for work unless the acts are taken at the request of the employer.
Here, the court found that the officer had left his home and was traveling on his usual route to the police station at the time of the accident. Since the officer had already left his home to travel to work, his accident arose out of his employment.
C is incorrect. The court concluded that the officer’s travel was not a significant deviation from his work route. He was injured before the point where he would have deviated slightly from his normal route to work. At the time he was injured, he was where he would have been expected to be in the course of his employment.
B is correct. In McMorris v. City of New Haven Police Department, et al., No. AC36328 (Conn. App. Ct. 04/28/15), the Connecticut Appellate Court held that the officer’s injuries were compensable.
Editor’s note: This feature is not intended as instructional material or to replace legal advice.