The Freibott Law Firm was recently successful in prosecuting a complicated claim on behalf of one of our clients in regards to a very unique worker’s compensation claim. Our client was a DelDOT construction manager for the State of Delaware. On October 16, 2014, our client left his office at the Bear location to attend a meeting of the American Society of Highway Engineers. DelDOT was involved in a large paving project on Kirkwood Highway. Our client was in charge of troubleshooting for any issue concerning that project. Upon completion of the meeting, our client learned there was a problem occurring at the Kirkwood Highway work site. A “ride ability” issue had arisen in that there was a problem with either the millingor paving portion of the project. Complaints had been made by the general public to DelDOT and it was our client’s responsibility to ensure that the project was performed in a safe manner. On October 16, 2014, our client arrived at the Kirkwood Highway site around 10:00 p.m. He drove up and down the project to determine the cause of the ride ability issue. It was determined that the contractor on site was having problems with its paving equipment which accounted for the unsmooth service being laid on Kirkwood Highway. At approximately 11:30 p.m., our client left the site to drive home. On his way home, our client was involved in a very serious collision wherein another car approaching the opposite direction and traveling in excess of 100 miles per hour and struck the front end of our client’s car. Our client was seriously injured in this accident.
The issue, before the Industrial Accident Board, was whether or not our client, on his way home from the construction project, was still in the scope and course of his employment with the State of Delaware. The Industrial Accident Board agreed that our client was injured in the course and scope of his employment and relied upon case law supplied to it by our firm. Simply put, there was no written contract that spelled out the rights or obligations of the parties in terms of whether or not our client was an employee in such a situation. Therefore, the Industrial Accident Board found that, under the totality of the circumstances of the case, our client was an employee with a “semi-fixed” place of employment. Our client testified that he spent as much time at the Bear office as he did on the road inspecting job sites. The Industrial Accident Board found that our client was clearly carrying out the employer’s business at the time of the collision. Moreover, as a separate finding, the Industrial Accident Board held that our client was also performing a “special errand” on behalf of his employer and further held that the “elements of urgency or increased risk may supply the necessary basis for converting a routine trip into a special errand.” The Industrial Accident Board held that our client was responding to an economic emergency from the employer’s perspective as there was a high cost issue for DelDOT with milling and repaving the blacktop at the Kirkwood Highway location. The Industrial Accident Board held there was an “urgent need for our client to report to the location late on the evening of October 16, 2014, to troubleshoot and remediate the pending issues.” Accordingly, the Industrial Accident Board found that our client was acting in the course and scope of his employment. The Industrial Accident Board further awarded that the State of Delaware pay our client’s attorney’s fee. (DeSantis v. State of Delaware,Hearing No.: 1439533Date of Decision: December 29, 2016)