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Injured workers should be covered by workers compensation when they are working, even if they are not on the employer's premises or jobsite.  In this case, Mr. Tjas was at home preparing for a sales trip.  He was expecting the display case to come in the mail to his home that day, so he salted the driveway when he saw the mailman coming.  While salting he slipped and broke his neck.  He was quadriplegic due to the accident.  When the insurance company denied benefits to Mr. Tjas because salting the driveway was not work related, Dawn and Gary Atkin brought this issue to the Court of Appeals. 

The court found that when someone is doing something to benefit the employer, they are working.  This was nothing new.  The court used prior decisions to reach this decision.  They wrote,

   Indeed, “[u]nder Utah law, an accident occurs ‘in the course of’ employment when it ‘occurs while the employee is rendering services to his employer which he was hired to do or doing something incidental thereto, at the time when and the place where he was authorized to render such service.’ ”   Buczynski, 934 P.2d at 1172 (citations omitted;  emphasis added);  see Black v. McDonald's of Layton, 733 P.2d 154, 156 (Utah 1987) (indicating accident is in scope of employment when it occurs “within the period of employment, at a place or area where the employee may reasonably be, and while the employee is engaged in an activity at least incidental to his employment”);  82 Am.Jur.2d Workers' Compensation § 266 (1992) (same).   An activity is “incidental to the employee's employment if it advances, directly or indirectly, his employer's interests.”  Black, 733 P.2d at 156 (emphasis added).

But they took this line of reasoning one step farther by finding that the removal of an obstacle (the ice) in order to do the work is incidental to employment and, therefore, covered under workers compensation.

This decision clarified what it means to be within the scope of employment and resulted in payment of permanent total disability benefits and millions in medical expenses caused by this accident.

AE CLEVITE, INC. and Liberty Mutual Insurance Company v. LABOR COMMISSION and Charles Tjas. No. 990218-CA.-- February 10, 2000

You can read the article on this case by the Deseret News here: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/745527/At-home-worker-prevails.html?pg=all

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