Accidents in The Course and Scope of Employment in Louisiana Workers Compensation
In order for an employee to be covered under Louisiana workers compensation, the employee’s accident must “arise out of employment” and occur “in the course of employment.”
The phrase “scope of employment” is a simpler way of saying “arising out of the employment.” Thus, instead of “arising out of” and “in the course of” employment,” it is often said that in workers compensation, the employee’s accident must simply occur in the “course and scope of employment.”
The “scope of the employment” (or “arising out of employment”) relates to the character or origin of the injury suffered by the employee and whether this injury was connected to the employment.
This simply means that the workers compensation injury will not be covered unless it is related to the employment.
Also, an injury occurs in the scope of the employment if the risk from which the injury resulted was greater for the employee than for a person not engaged in the employment.
The “course of employment” means that the employee sustained an injury while actively engaged in the performance of his duties during work hours, either on the employer’s premises or at other places where employment activities take the employee. Thus, the essential questions for the course of employment are:
- When did the accident happen?
- Where did the accident happen?
- What was the employee doing when the accident happened?
Basically, if the employee suffered an accident during work hours, or while actually doing his or her job, or at the employee’s place of employment, then in all likelihood, the employee will be covered by workers compensation.
IN THE COURSE OF EMPLOYMENT IN LOUISIANA WORKERS COMPENSATION
So again, if the employee suffers an accident during work hours, or while actually doing the duties of his or her job, or while at the employee’s place of employment, then the employee will be covered by workers compensation because the employee is clearly within the course of employment.
But whether the employee is in the course of employment is not always so clear. For example, what if the employee:
- Is injured traveling to or from work?
- Is injured at a dangerous place adjacent to the employer’s premises?
- Is injured while using the employer’s transportation?
- Is injured while moving between places of work?
- Is injured while traveling for work?
- Is injured on the employer’s premises before or after working hours?
- Is injured during an authorized lunch hour or rest period?
- Is injured while standing by or doing recreational activities?
- Is performing personal errands for the employer?
- Is injured during an emergency or attempted rescue?
- Is injured while violating instructions?
- Is injured while involved in horseplay or an assault, or a personal dispute?
Generally speaking, the employee is considered to be in the course of employment for a reasonable time both before and after work hours.
If the employer requires the employee to participate in an activity outside of work hours or away from the employer’s premises, then the employee will be considered in the course of employment.
Or if the employer derives substantial, direct benefit from an employee’s activity, then the employee will be considered in the course of employment.
Also, accidents occurring either going to work from home or vice versa generally are not covered by workers compensation. But travel in-between places of work is covered by Louisiana workers compensation.
In short, many of these questionable scenarios regarding the course of employment contain factual questions that need to be determined on a case-by-case basis.
But Louisiana law has provided general rules and guidelines and laws in order to answer these specific questions regarding particular course of employment scenarios.
THE LOUISIANA STATUTE ON ACCIDENTS IN THE COURSE AND SCOPE OF EMPLOYMENT IN LOUISIANA WORKERS COMPENSATION
The primary Louisiana statute on accidents in the course and scope of employment is La. R.S. 23:1031, which reads as follows:
§1031. Employee’s right of action; joint employers, extent of liability; borrowed employees
A. If an employee not otherwise eliminated from the benefits of this Chapter receives personal injury by accident arising out of and in the course of his employment, his employer shall pay compensation in the amounts, on the conditions, and to the person or persons hereinafter designated.
B. In case any employee for whose injury or death payments are due is, at the time of the injury, employed and paid jointly by two or more employers subject to the provisions of this Chapter, such employers shall contribute to such payments in proportion to their several wage liabilities to the employee; but nothing in this Section shall prevent any arrangement between the employers for different distribution, as between themselves, of the ultimate burden of such payments. If one or more but not all the employers are subject to this Chapter, then the liability of such of them as are so subject shall be to pay that proportion of the entire payments which their proportionate wage liability bears to the entire wages of the employee; but such payment by the employers subject to this Chapter shall not bar the right of recovery against any other joint employer.
C. In the case of any employee for whose injury or death payments are due and who is, at the time of the injury, employed by a borrowing employer in this Section referred to as a “special employer”, and is under the control and direction of the special employer in the performance of the work, both the special employer and the immediate employer, referred to in this Section as a “general employer”, shall be liable jointly and in solido to pay benefits as provided under this Chapter. As between the special and general employers, each shall have the right to seek contribution from the other for any payments made on behalf of the employee unless there is a contract between them expressing a different method of sharing the liability. Where compensation is claimed from, or proceedings are taken against, the special employer, then, in the application of this Chapter, reference to the special employer shall be substituted for reference to the employer, except that the amount of compensation shall be calculated with reference to the earnings of the employee under the general employer by whom he is immediately employed. The special and the general employers shall be entitled to the exclusive remedy protections provided in R.S. 23:1032.
D. An injury by accident shall not be considered as having arisen out of the employment and is thereby not covered by the provisions of this Chapter if the injured employee was engaged in horseplay at the time of the injury.
E. An injury by accident should not be considered as having arisen out of the employment and thereby not covered by the provisions of this Chapter if the employer can establish that the injury arose out of a dispute with another person or employee over matters unrelated to the injured employee’s employment.
Acts 1989, No. 454, §2, eff. Jan. 1, 1990; Acts 1997, No. 315, §1, eff. June 17, 1997.