Keovorabouth v. Ind.Comm’n of Arizona – 8/4/2009

August 18, 2009

Arizona Court of Appeals Division One Holds That Worker’s Compensation Claimant’s Injuries, Sustained In Car Accident While Traveling to Her Attorney’s Office to Prepare For Her Deposition In a Pending Industrial Commission Proceeding, Did Not Arise Out of Her Employment and Are Non-Compensable.

In 2005, Keovorabouth filed a worker’s compensation claim alleging she was injured on the job in May 2005 during her employment with Rockford Corporation.  Wasau Business Insurance, Rockford’s insurer, denied her claim for benefits, in August 2005.  On January 5, 2006, Keovorabouth was scheduled to have her deposition taken by Rockford’s counsel.  En route to her attorney’s office to prepare for the deposition, Keovorabouth was injured in a car accident.  Keovorabouth filed a second worker’s compensation claim against Rockford in December 2006, asserting that her January 5 injury was compensable because it had occurred in the course of satisfying her statutory duty to appear and testify at the deposition as compelled by her employer.  The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) found that this claim was noncompensable.  Keovorabouth filed a request for review, and the ALJ summarily affirmed the decision.  Keovorabouth filed a special action, and the Court of Appeals took jurisdiction.

Division One affirmed the ALJ’s decision.  The Court noted that compensability requires both legal and medical causation.  The Court agreed with Rockford and Wasau that Keovorabouth had failed to establish legal causation, i.e., the accident arose out of and in the course of Keovorabouth’s employment.  The Court analogized travel for the purpose of attending a deposition to travel for the purpose of attending an IME.  In both instances, the employee is traveling to pursue a worker’s compensation claim against the employer.  Unlike the duty to submit to reasonable medical care, an employee is under no duty to pursue a compensation claim.  Thus, unlike travel for medical treatment, travel to a deposition is not “impliedly authorized by the employer” as part of employment.  Injuries sustained during such travel do not arise out of the scope of employment and are therefore are generally not compensable.

Judge Gemmill authored the decision; Judges Weisberg and Barker concurred.