NWCDN Members regularly post articles and summary judgements in workers’ compensations law in your state.
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A worker in Austin, Texas lost his bid to carve out an exception to the exclusive remedy of the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act on the ground that, at the time of his injury, he was performing duties outside of the course and scope of his employment.
Melvin Gonzalez worked as a car detailer and porter for Dynamic Motors, a used car dealership and service garage whose advertising catchphrase is “Don’t Panic. GO DYNAMIC!” The service manager asked him to help with repairs on the roof, and while doing so Gonzalez stepped through a skylight and fell 20 feet to the concrete floor below.
Dynamic filed a report of injury with its workers’ compensation insurance carrier and Gonzalez accepted workers’ compensation insurance benefits. He then sued Dynamic, alleging that the company was negligent in failing to provide fall protection.
Dynamic asserted the affirmative defense that workers’ compensation insurance benefits were Gonzalez’ exclusive remedy, and the trial court agreed. On appeal, Gonzalez argued that because roof repairs are not part of Dynamic’s business, and because he was injured while performing such repairs, he was not engaged in the usual course and scope of Dynamic’s business and was, therefore, not an “employee,” as that term is defined by the Texas Worker’s Compensation Act, at the time of the injury. The Austin court of appeals disagreed and said that the Act does not contemplate a “task-by-task” approach to the issue of whether a worker is injured in the course and scope of employment.
You can read the decision here.
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