Colvin v. Giguere, 2014 UT 23 (June 20, 2014)
Jun 20, 2014
In this negligence action, the surviving family of a man killed in a car accident sued the man’s co-worker who was driving the vehicle. The accident occurred outside of normal work hours, when the man and his co-worker were travelling from one work site to another in a company vehicle. The co-worker’s employment contract also stated that he would not be paid for such travel. Despite these facts and the general rule that travel to and from work is not considered to be within the scope and course of one’s employment, the district court found that the “special errand” exception applied and therefore dismissed the suit under the Workers’ Compensation Act’s (WCA) exclusive remedy provision. The Utah Supreme Court affirmed, explaining that although an employment contract is relevant in defining the parameters of the employer – employee relationship, it is not determinative of whether a particular task arises out of or is performed in the course of a worker’s employment for the purpose of determining the existence of coverage under the WCA. Instead, the actual facts and circumstances surrounding the task must be examined. The trip met the requirements of the special errand exception to the going-and-coming rule (therefore barring plaintiffs’ claims under the exclusive remedy provision) because of the unusual, onerous, and sudden nature of the travel.