April 23, 2019

Colorado Court of Appeals: Volunteer Traveling to Meeting Was Employee for Workers’ Compensation Purposes

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Teller County, Colorado v. Industrial Claim Appeals Office on Thursday, April 23, 2015.

Workers’ Compensation—Volunteer as Employee—Coming and Going Rule.

Claimant is the president and incident commander for Teller County Search and Rescue (TCSAR). All employees of TCSAR, including claimant, are volunteers who receive no monetary compensation.

On May 10, 2013, claimant left his home in Florissant to attend a fire chiefs meeting in Divide. Before leaving, he contacted the Teller County dispatch to “mark in service,” thereby notifying Teller County that he was en route to the meeting. As he was driving, he was struck head on by an approaching vehicle and sustained severe injuries.

He filed a workers’ compensation benefits claim, asserting that as a volunteer he fell within the definition of “employee” set forth in CRS § 8-40-202(1)(a)(I)(A). The administrative law judge (ALJ) agreed and the Industrial Claim Appeals Office(Panel) affirmed.

On appeal, Teller County argued that (1) claimant’s actions did not fall within the statutory definition of “employee” because he was driving to a meeting and not actually performing duties or engaged in an organized drill or training when the accident occurred; (2) the Panel’s inclusion of “planning and preparation” activities under the definition of employee broadened the scope of the provision beyond the General Assembly’s intent; (3) the Panel engaged in improper fact finding in affirming the ALJ’s decision; and (4) claimant’s claim should have been barred by the “coming and going” rule.

The Court of Appeals was not persuaded by these arguments. Attending fire chief meetings was clearly a part of claimant’s position and duties as president of TCSAR. It was, contrary to Teller County’s argument, a part of the custom and practice of claimant’s position. In addition, the Court reviewed the record and found no improper fact finding by the Panel. Finally, the Court found that the circumstances here fell squarely in one of the many exceptions to the coming and going rule, which ordinarily does not allow workers benefits if they are injured coming from or going to work. The order was affirmed.

Summary and full case available here, courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Speak Your Mind

*