Louisiana Appellate Court Upholds Dismissal of Car Wreck Claim Based on Worker’s Compensation Exclusivity Rule

When it comes to injuries on the job, knowing whether you are limited to pursuing worker’s compensation benefits or whether you can bring a civil claim against your employer to recover damages can be confusing. At Dué Guidry Piedrahita Andrews Courrege L.C., our knowledgeable Louisiana car crash lawyers have counseled numerous victims about their right to compensation, and we are standing by to assist you. A recent appellate opinion discusses the application of rules regarding whether an injured worker can bring a civil claim against an employer.

The plaintiff and another coworker worked for the City of Shreveport in the Airfield Maintenance Division. One afternoon shortly before 5 pm, the coworker backed a city-owned vehicle into the rear bumper of the plaintiff’s personal automobile. The area where the accident took place was surrounded with barbed-wire fencing and marked with a Restricted sign. A written report was prepared by an airfield employee that day, and the plaintiff went to the hospital for examination.

Shortly thereafter, the plaintiff filed a damages lawsuit against the City of Shreveport, the coworker, and the coworker’s insurance company. After a series of motions and rulings, the trial court determined that the plaintiff’s injury occurred during the course and scope of her employment. In reaching this conclusion, the lower court noted that the accident occurred during the plaintiff’s hours of employment in an area that was not open to the general public and that the plaintiff was technically still on duty at the time of the crash. The trial court dismissed the plaintiff’s claim, and the plaintiff appealed.

On appeal, the plaintiff argued that worker’s compensation exclusivity laws did not apply to bar her tort claim because she was not performing any work functions or duties at the time her vehicle was struck, and the location of the accident was not one that exposed employees to special hazards. The appellate court first stated the general rule regarding worker’s compensation benefits. For an injury to be considered within the course and scope of employment, the employee must be engaged in his or her job duties during his or her working hours, either on the employer’s job site or at another location. Stated more simply, the three key factors for determining whether an accident happened on the job are time, place, and activity.

Applying those factors to the present case, the appellate court upheld the lower court’s determination that the accident took place during the course and scope of the plaintiff’s employment. Even though the plaintiff was leaving work in her personal vehicle, the evidence presented in the record showed that the plaintiff was still on duty and physically located at the employer’s site when the crash took place.

If you have been involved in a car wreck, you may be entitled to compensation. Determining which parties owe you damages can be confusing and complicated, but it is a critically important step in developing your lawsuit. At Dué Guidry Piedrahita Andrews Courrege L.C., we proudly serve clients throughout Louisiana in all of the phases of tort litigation, including gathering evidence and negotiating with insurance companies. To schedule your free consultation, call us now at (225) 929-7481 or contact us online to get started.

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