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Was she working or on an errand? Ohio Supreme Court to decide

Many employers in Ohio provide workers' compensation benefits to their employees. While workers' compensation is governed by Ohio law, many workers and often employers, and even lawmakers, may find the terms and limitations of benefits to be unclear. 

Recently a woman working as a visiting nurse was driving to a patient's home and decided to run a personal errand--dropping off her children at a mall that she would pass on the route from her home to the patient's house.  The nurse stopped at a red light and was rear-ended by a car behind her. The nurse filed a workers' compensation claim in order to help cover the expenses resulting from her injuries. 

While the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation and the Ohio Industrial Commission approved the nurse’s compensation claim, her employer appealed it. A county court ruled in favor of the nurse’s employer, citing that the woman was running a personal errand at the time of the accident.

However, the Fifth District Ohio Court of Appeals overturned this ruling, finding the nurse was fulfilling the duties that her employer required during the accident. The nurse’s employer appealed once again to the Ohio Supreme Court. No decision has been reached at this point in time. 

The lawyers for the nursing association are arguing and attempting to deny compensation to the woman because allegedly the nurse was far from the patient’s home on a public road when the accident occurred. They argue that because the nursing association had no control over the situation that they are not responsible for providing compensation. The nurse’s counsel counters that because she was en route to her next patient that she is eligible to receive workers’ compensation. 

Car accidents are often disorienting for everyone involved, especially when workers’ compensation concerns arise for traveling workers. After suffering a work-related injury in any circumstance, the consultation of an experienced attorney can help you to protect your rights.

Source: The Plain Dealer, "Ohio Supreme Court focuses on the line between on-the-job and personal errands when workers are injured," Robert Higgs, April 9, 2014

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