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Judges: injuries from crash on public road not covered

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has upheld a decision by the state worker’s compensation board that denied a security guard’s claim that a car accident on the way to work happened in the course of his employment and should be compensated.

Night security guard Earl Arnold in 2006 was driving from his home to his job at Rose Acre’s facility in Cortland. He was on County Road 800 North, which is a public road that intersects with a gravel road serving as the only entrance to Rose Acre’s facility. As Arnold started to make a left-hand turn onto the facility’s gravel road and crossed the center line, he was struck by a pick-up truck. The vehicles came to rest partially on the public road and partially in Rose Acre’s driveway. Arnold suffered several injuries.

He filed a claim for workers’ compensation on the grounds that the accident arose out of and in the course of his employment, but a single member denied his claim and the full board supported that conclusion.

In Earl Arnold, Sr. v. Rose Acre Farms, Inc., No. 93A02-1109-EX-874, the judges could not determine that the full board erred in concluding that the public road wasn’t part of the Rose Acre’s premises for purposes of state statute. Although Rose Acre technically owned the soil beneath the public road, the judges found that it had no control of the road’s use a public thoroughfare. The court rejected Arnold’s argument that his left-hand turn into Rose Acre distinguished his use of the public road from the use made by the public at large.

The court also declined to apply a ruling it made more than a decade ago in Clemans v. Wishard Mem’l Hosp., 727 N.E.2d 1084 (Ind. Ct. App. 2000), which involved an employee traveling on a public road from one part of the employer’s premises to another part. That precedent does not stand for the proposition that an employee may be eligible for benefits from injuries occurring when traveling on a public road from the home to the employer’s sole piece of property, Judge Carr Darden wrote.

The court noted that Arnold failed to show the board erred in determining he wasn’t injured in the course of his employment with Rose Acre. Darden wrote in a footnote that the panel is making no determination as to whether Arnold’s injuries “arose out of” his employment.

 

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