Oregon Workers’ Compensation Information for Traveling Employees

Here is some new news about traveling employees.  The worker’s injury happened when he was struck by a motor vehicle after he got out of his employer’s truck, at the driver’s suggestion, to cross a highway to walk to a convenience store to get a beverage and cigarettes while the truck was getting gas.   The claimant traveled every day as a passenger in his employer’s truck, from the employer’s offices to the job site. The truck would regularly stop at one of two gas stations for refueling, at which time claimant and his coworkers would frequently purchase food and drinks at nearby convenience stores.

When the worker asked if the truck would be stopping at the convenience store, the driver pulled into the turn lane of the highway in the intersection and stated that if claimant and his coworkers wanted to get out, “now’s the time.” The claimant and a coworker got out of the truck while it was still in the intersection, the claimant was struck by another vehicle, while trying to cross the highway to get to the convenience store. The insurer denied his claim, saying that he was injured while engaging in a purely personal activity that was unrelated to his employment.

The injured worker’s claim was ordered to be accepted because when an employee’s work includes travel away from the employer’s premises, the worker becomes a traveling employee, even if the travel is local and it was not a long trip.  A traveling employee is considered to be continuously on the job unless the employee is on a “personal errand”.  This injury was covered because the injured worker was not on a personal errand. Crossing the street to purchase cigarettes and a drink was an activity reasonably related to his travel. Even if  the claimant’s method of crossing the highway to buy cigarettes and a drink had been questionable, it was the type of activity that the employer might reasonably know that a traveling employee would do. And, the claim was covered even though the claimant’s activity was prohibited by the employer’s policy.  This was because lead workers had let him and his coworkers get out of the truck in the middle of the highway before, and they had never been told that this was prohibited, the claimant’s activity did not violate an employer rule, and did not result from a personal risk, but rather was a risk of his travel.

If you have questions or need help with your Oregon Workers’ Compensation claim, please contact the law office of Philip H. Garrow

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