NWCDN Members regularly post articles and summary judgements in workers’ compensations law in your state.
Select a state from the dropdown menu below to scroll through the state specific archives for updates and opinions on various workers’ compensation laws in your state.
Contact information for NWCDN members is also located on the state specific links in the event you have additional questions or your company is seeking a workers’ compensation lawyer in your state.
District of Columbia Court of Appeals Finds Bus Driver’s Injury Compensable as An Exception to the Going and Coming Rule.
On May 26, 2022, the D.C. Court of Appeals decided the case of Latonya Lee v. District of Columbia Department of Employment Services, 275 A.3d 307. The Court had to decide whether Lee’s (Petitioner) injuries arose out of and in the course of employment. The Petitioner was a WMATA bus driver who was scheduled to work a split shift. The Petitioner finished her first shift and parked her bus at the end of her route, several blocks away from where she started. While the Petitioner was walking back to her vehicle, parked close to the starting point of her bus route, she fell and sustained injuries. The Petitioner then applied for disability benefits. The administrative law judge denied the Petitioner’s claim as compensable as the injuries did not arise out of and in the course of employment, and the Compensation Review Board (CRB) affirmed that decision. The Petitioner appealed to the D.C. Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals reversed the CRB’s ruling as they erroneously relied on the going and coming rule.
The Court of Appeals found as follows:
· The Court of Appeals applied the potential-risk test and found that the Petitioner’s injuries arose out of and in the course of employment. The risk of falling would not have happened but for the fact that conditions and obligations of employment which placed claimant in a position to walk back to her vehicle.
· Similarly, the Court found that the risk of injury was reasonably foreseeable because walking back to her car was reasonable incidental to her employment as the conditions of her employment put her in a position where it would be reasonably expected for her to go back to her original point.
· Although the general rule is that “going and coming” to and from work is not within the scope of employment, this case fell within the exception since the bus driver is paid for their travel time. Therefore, the hazards of the journey are the obligations of the employer.
District of Columbia Court of Appeals Agrees that D.C. Code § 32-1505(b) Is Ambiguous and Remands Back to the Compensation Review Board for Further Consideration.
On July 14, 2022, the D.C. Court of Appeals handed down their decision in Sidnice Hughes-Turner v. District of Columbia Department of Employment Services, 2022 WL 2721060. At issue was whether D.C. Code § 32-1505(b) limits a claimant from receiving more than an aggregate total of 500 weeks of temporary total benefits and “non-schedule” permanent-partial benefits. The Compensation Review Board (CRB) decided that D.C. Code § 32-1505(b) precluded Hughes-Turner (Claimant) from receiving more than an aggregate total of 500 weeks of temporary total benefits and “non-schedule” permanent-partial benefits. In coming to their decision, the CRB relied on the legislative history of the amendments that included § 32-1505(b), and how the section compared to similar benefit caps in Maryland and Virginia. The Claimant appealed the CRB decision to the D.C. Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals vacated the CRB’s decision and remanded the claim back to the CRB for further consideration.
The Court of Appeals found as follows:
· The Court of Appeals agreed the statutory language of D.C. Code § 32-1505(b) was ambiguous as to whether the 500-week cap applies in the aggregate to temporary total benefits and permanent partial benefits, or separately to each type of benefit.
· However, the Court disagreed with the CRB’s interpretation heavily relying on the legislative purpose to create an aggregate cap more in line with 500-week Maryland and Virginia caps, as it was found that Maryland and Virginia took different approaches to the aggravation issue at the time § 32-1505(b) was enacted.
· Further, the Court decided that although the CRB’s interpretation of § 32-1505(b) was in line with the legislative intent, they failed to address other considerations, such as “the principle that the Workers’ Compensation Act should be interpreted liberally in light of its humanitarian purposes”.
District of Columbia Council Resolution PR24-0783: Parity in Workers’ Compensation Recovery Emergency Declaration Resolution of 2022.
Historically, an injured worker could not receive any workers’ compensation benefits in D.C. if they had ever received benefits for the same accidental injury or death in another state. However, on June 6, 2022, legislation permitting an employee’s access to workers’ compensation benefits in D.C., even if the injured worker has applied for and received benefits in another state, was put forth on an emergency basis. The support for the legislation came from arguments that injured workers were unfairly prevented from accessing the full compensation and benefits since workers’ compensation laws in neighboring states (Maryland and Virginia) were less favorable to the injured workers than in D.C. Although, the legislation included that D.C. courts would be required to reduce damages based on the compensation the claimant already received in the neighboring state, as to not allow overcompensation and manipulation. The legislation was ratified by Mayor Muriel Bowser on June 7, 2022 and will expire on September 26, 2022.