South Carolina Worker’s Family Was Not Entitled to Benefits for Deceased Worker’s Death Because No Exception to the Coming and Going Rule Applied – Wofford v. City of Spartanburg

motorcycle 2When an employee is hurt or becomes ill as a result of his or her employment, the employee may pursue workers’ compensation benefits such as medical care, temporary total disability payments, and permanent total disability benefits.

In cases in which an employee dies as a result of his or her employment, the family of the worker is usually entitled to compensation in lieu of payments to the employee. However, in some cases, an issue arises as to whether an injury was, in fact, work-related or whether it arose during the course and scope of the worker’s employment.

In the recent case of Wofford v. City of Spartanburg, the plaintiffs were the surviving spouse and child of a man who died in a motorcycle accident while en route to his job at a recreational center owned by the defendant city. The man’s survivors sought workers’ compensation benefits for the man’s alleged on-the-job injury, but an appellate panel of the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission entered an order declaring that the man was not acting within the course and scope of his employment at the time he was killed, nor did the case fall under any exceptions to the “going and coming rule.”

The Decision of the South Carolina Court of Appeals

Upon review, the court affirmed the appellate panel’s order in favor of the employer, agreeing that the survivors were not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits because the employee’s death did not occur in the course and scope of his employment.

As the superintendent of the defendant city’s parks and recreation department, the employee worked out of several different recreation centers, as well the main office of the department and the city’s various parks. He had discretion in setting his work hours.

On the day of the accident, the employee drove to his mother’s house to pick up his motorcycle, telling her that he was on his way to work but staying to visit with her for about three hours. According to the court, the employee’s actions created a substantial deviation from his employment. Although the employee’s supervisor had called him on the morning of the accident and asked him to meet her at a swim center to sign some forms and retrieve a key, the court found that the circumstances did not create an exception to the going and coming rule (under which an employee who is hurt while either going to or coming from work is not covered under workers’ compensation laws), nor did the special errand exception apply.

For Help with a South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Claim

If you have been hurt on the job and need to speak to an attorney about your case, call the Patrick E. Knie Law Offices at (864) 582-5118 for a free, confidential appointment with an experienced South Carolina workers’ compensation attorney. With offices conveniently located in Spartanburg and Greenville, we can serve your legal needs anywhere in South Carolina. Do not delay in seeking legal counsel concerning your work-related injury or other personal injury lawsuit, since strict deadlines exist for the giving of notice and the filing of a formal complaint against the party from which you seek damages.

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