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Sheena Harrison

Firefighter traveling to get work mail due comp benefits from accident

February 3, 2014 - 4:09pm


A firefighter injured in a motorcycle accident while riding to collect his work mail from a fire station should receive workers compensation benefits, Maryland’s high court has ruled.

Thaddus Roberts worked as a firefighter for Montgomery County, Md., court records show. He suffered a compensable back injury in 2004, and was encouraged by the fire department to attend physical training as part of a light-duty job modification he received.

Mr. Roberts was injured in October 2010 when he lost control of his motorcycle while traveling from physical training to get work-related mail at a local fire station, records show. He filed for workers comp benefits related to the motorcycle accident.

Montgomery County denied liability, alleging that Mr. Roberts’ injuries did not arise out of the scope of his work, records show. Mr. Roberts countered that his injuries were compensable because he was encouraged by his employer to attend physical training and was traveling to pick up his work mail.

A Maryland Circuit Court and a panel of Maryland’s Court of Special Appeals denied Mr. Roberts’ claim, determining that he was only at work once he reached the fire station and that his injuries while commuting to work were not compensable under Maryland’s “coming and going” rule for workers comp. Mr. Roberts appealed.

In a unanimous decision Friday, the Maryland Court of Appeals found that Mr. Roberts’ injuries from the motorcycle accident were compensable. In its opinion, the high court found that Mr. Roberts’ injuries were compensable because he left work-related physical training to travel to another work site.

“His travel, therefore, was incidental to his employment,” the ruling reads. “Travel incidental to employment cannot be excluded from coverage by application of the going and coming rule.”

The case was remanded for further proceedings.

 



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