Deviation from Work Duties
Feb. 25, 2022
This is the theory that the insurance company and their attorney use to deny an injured persons’ claim. The story goes like this: a person is doing his job duties delivering packages. They make a certain delivery but after a few hours they realize they forgot to deliver a package to the same address where they previously delivered. The driver turns around and goes back to the same address where they previously omitted to deliver the other package but, on the way back (the deviation) the driver gets into an automobile accident, and he is seriously hurt. The insurance company will deny the claim stating that the route he was on was a deviation from his original route, and it would render the employee’s claim as non-compensable.
The Law states differently: if an employee is doing something in the interest of his/her employer, in the event the employee does not have a special permission from the employer to do a particular act and it is beyond the scope of the employee’s regular duties, the injury arises out of and of the course of the employment. This language is from the case of Grieves v Builders Steel Supply, a 1988 case.
As you can see, by turning around on the route to go back to an address where a package was missed, even if this act was not under the special permission of the employer, the employee was acting in the interest of the employer. Generally speaking, there was no evidence that the employee was conducting a personal errand to deviate from their job duties in any way. That is an important fact as well.
This is a defense that seems to be used quite often in cases when the employee drives a company vehicle. It is also much more popular now since GPS systems are installed in many company vehicles and an employer has the ability to “watch” what their employees are doing during the course of the day as their route is clearly monitored during the entire workday.