Gurtler v. Industrial Commission of Arizona – 7/28/2015

August 3, 2015

Arizona Court of Appeals Division One holds that injuries sustained on the way home immediately after completing a business errand are not compensable under the workers’ compensation system.

An employee left her office and performed a short business errand by dropping off documents at a different location.  She was injured in a car accident on her way home, mere minutes after completing the business errand.

Arizona’s workers’ compensation system compensates employees for injuries arising out of and sustained in the course of employment.  The administrative law judge held that the employee’s injuries were not compensable because they did not arise out of her employment. 

The Court of Appeals affirmed.  Under the longstanding going-and-coming rule, injuries sustained during an employee’s normal commute to and from work do not entitle the employee to compensation.  Here, the employee had completed all business activities and was on her way home.  Under the rule, therefore, her injuries were not compensable.

The Court rejected the employee’s requests for exceptions to the going-and-coming rule.  For example, it rejected the employee’s reliance on the dual-purpose exception because the business detour did not actually require a special trip.  The Court also emphasized that the employee’s route home after the detour was only “slightly different” from the route she typically took.

Judge Brown authored the opinion.  Judges Howe and Thompson joined.