When Is a Kansas Work-Related Injury within the Scope of Employment? [Part II]

In Part I of this blog, we indicated that the Kansas workers compensation system only covers workplace injuries that occur within the “scope of employment.”   When an injury occurs while an employee is not at his or her place of employment, the distinction between a “detour” and “frolic” is critical to determining workers compensation coverage as we discussed in Part I of this blog.  While both terms refer to a deviation from one’s work duties, this distinction is fact sensitive and often bitterly contested by workers compensation insurance attorneys.  We have provided an overview of relevant factors that may be considered when determining whether coverage is applicable.

Location of the Injury: If the location of the accident that causes injury to an employee is a location where the employee routinely works, the accident is more likely to be considered a detour so that workers compensation coverage is appropriate.  While this may include the business facility, it would also include destinations where the employee makes deliveries, or the type of worksites where an employee typically performs job-related duties.  A heavy machinery operator may have never been to the site of a particular construction project before; however, the employee routinely operates a crane for the employer on building sites.

Position of Authority: When the person that suffers injury is a manager, it may be presumed that a broader scope of job duties and discretion would have been authorized than for an entry level employee.

Timing of Incident: This factor may be relevant in two separate respects.  The first is the duration of time that the employee was engaged in the activity outside his or her employment duties that resulted in injury.  A brief departure like driving a couple blocks out of the way to get Starbucks when picking up building supplies may be only detour as opposed to driving an hour away on one’s lunch break to see a movie with a friend.  It may also be relevant if the activity occurred during normal business hours, but this is not necessarily dispositive.  For example, if non-managerial employees get together informally after work for drinks, this may constitute a frolic.  However, a car accident on the way to a restaurant for the company Christmas party may justify workers compensation coverage if the crash occurs while the employee is headed home to change clothes.

Nature of Job Duties: Workers compensation coverage is more likely if the activities are somehow related to the employee’s job duties even if in some tangential way.

Foreseeability of the Departure: If the employer has reason to know that the employee has a pattern of running errands for the employer while also handling personnel tasks or otherwise had access to information that made the departure predictable, this factor may support coverage.

Motivation for Excursion: If the purpose of the excursion benefits the employer, this will tend to support the conclusion that the incident was within the course of employment.

If you or someone close to you has suffered a work-related injury, experienced Kansas workers compensation lawyer Michael R. Lawless can help you pursue medical treatment, lost income and benefits for permanent disability.  Our Lenexa, KS workers compensation law firm is dedicated to balancing the scales of justice so that you can obtain the compensation that you deserve.  We invite you to call us toll free at 1-800-734-3771 or visit our website and submit a case inquiry form today.