Workers’ Compensation for Traveling Employees

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Many employees travel for their work and can become injured while they are on the road. It has long been an unsettled question in Nevada whether and when traveling employees can be covered by workers’ compensation. A recent Nevada Supreme Court decision shed some light on the issue.

Supreme Court Decision

In the Nevada Supreme Court decision, Buma v. Providence Corp. Development, the Court addressed the question of whether employees who travel for work are covered by workers’ compensation and to what degree. The Court noted that, in order to be eligible for workers’ compensation, an employee must show that their injury arose out of and in the course of their employment. Under Nevada law, travel for which an employee receives wages is deemed in the course of employment. NRS 616B.612 However, is an employee covered by workers’ compensation the entire time they are traveling?

The Court applied a rule found in Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law that stated that traveling employees are within the course of their employment the entire time they are traveling, except when a distinct departure on a personal errand is shown. But what classifies as a “distinct departure on a personal errand?” The Court noted that when travel is an essential part of employment, the risks associated with eating, sleeping, and administering to personal needs while the employee is away from home, are incident to the employment even if the employee isn’t actually performing work. If, for instance, a worker is injured while driving to a restaurant for dinner, they would likely be covered by workers’ compensation. The Court noted “to determine whether a traveling employee left the course of employment by distinctly departing on a personal errand, the inquiry focuses on whether the employee was:

  • Tending reasonably to the needs of personal comfort, or encountering hazards necessarily incidental to the travel or work; or
  • Pursuing … strictly personal amusement ventures.”

In other words, did the distinct departure on a personal errand involve something that was personally motivated and a deviation in time or space from carrying out the trip’s employment-related objective? An example of a distinct departure on a personal errand would be a flight attendant on a 24-hour layover who is injured while skiing at an area 58 miles from her hotel.

This case helps clarify how to determine if an injury to a traveling employee is covered by workers’ compensation. It also leaves open room for argument about whether an employee’s activity was a “distinct departure on a personal errand.”

An Attorney Can Help

If you are a traveling employee who was injured on the job, you should explore your options with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. At GGRM, we have over 50 years of experience helping injured workers. If you’ve been injured at work, call us at 702-710-0542 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.