A precedent was set last week when the Alaska Workers Compensation Commission ruled that a snowplow driver who was on call was covered by the Workers Compensation Act. Spain & Sons v Stevens, AWCAC Decision No 238 (4/14/17).
In that case, the driver, James Stevens was "on call" when he received a telephone call from his boss to go out and sand icy roads on a particularly nasty winter night. His boss only paid him from the time he got into his snowplow truck, and not from the time he left his home, to drive to his truck which he had parked in on a different property. Along the way to his truck, he was injured in a motor vehicle accident when a vehicle coming from the other direction lost control on the ice, crossed the center line and struck him.
The employer's insurance company refused to pay for his medical treatment because it claimed he was not working at the time he was in the accident. The case went to hearing. The Board found he was working at the time of the accident. The employer appealed. The Commission affirmed the Board's decision. It held that he was working when he was driving to his truck because:
- He was on the road in direct response to a call from his boss to go to work,
- His employer allowed him only 30 minutes to get to his truck,
- The general public had the option to stay off the icy road, but he did not,
- Driving on the icy road was necessitated by his employment,
- He was driving on the only road that he could use to get to his truck,
- The nature of his work, plowing and sanding snowy and/or icy roads, necessitated travel in extreme weather conditions,
- His work-related travel increased the likelihood of an accident,
- Because of the nature of his work, he was exposed to special hazards which other individuals could avoid,
- The hazard the caused the accident was an integral part of his employment,
- If he had parked his snowplow at his house, he would have been on the clock as soon as he stepped out his door as many of his co-workers were,
- The on-call status of the drivers was a direct and substantial benefit to the employer.
Keenan Powell has practiced law in Alaska for more than 30 years and has dedicated her practice to Workers Compensation representing injured Alaskans.
All consultations are free. If you want to set up a meeting, use the contact form on www.keenanpowell.com or call: 907 258 7663.