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What is "Arising out of the Scope of Employment?"

Dave Langevin - Monday, October 05, 2015

The workers’ compensation scheme covers employees whose injuries arise out of and in the course of employment. The phrase “arising out of and in the course of employment” seems simple, but its application can be quite complex. This is a concept that courts have not given clear guidance on, and therefore it is a question that often ends up being litigated. This blog will focus on determining whether an injury arises out of the course of employment.

The basic rule is that the injury must have been caused by something at work in order to fall under the workers’ compensation laws. This is determined by looking at whether the worker was put at an increased risk for injury due to her employment. An increased risk is any risk for injury that is greater than the risk that the general public is exposed to. A good example is a chef being burned by a pan. If she hadn’t been working, she would not have been at the same elevated risk for burns.

One example of a claim where the court determined the employee was not at an increased risk was a woman who sued her employer after slipping and falling on a public plaza outside the building where she worked. The employee claimed that she should be entitled to compensation because she would not have been exposed to the ice had she not gone to work. The court, however, ruled that she was at no greater risk than the general public when she walked across the plaza.

On the subject of leaving work, courts have generally said that employees cannot receive compensation for injuries suffered on the way to or from work. This changes, however, when an employee is travelling while on the clock. While there is always some risk of injury when travelling on the street, employers must accept this risk as their own when an employee is travelling on their behalf.

Stay tuned for more posts about the Minnesota workers’ compensation system. In our next post, we will be talking about what it means when injuries arise in the course of employment. In the meantime, if you have been injured at work and are not receiving fair compensation from your employer, give us a call. 612-ASK-DAVE (612-275-3283) or toll free at 1-800-888-4425. We are here to help!