Legal case briefs for nurses.

Author:Tammelleo, A. David

VA: Employee Looking at Cell in Auto Accident: Decision Awarding Workers' Comp. Affirmed

CASE FACTS: Donna Turpin was employed by Wythe County Community Hospital (Wyeth) as a home hospice nurse. As a home hospice nurse, Donna was often called upon to provide her own automobile, which was stocked with Wyeth's supplies, as well as her own nursing baa, to make home visits, which Wyeth was called upon to perform as part of her duties during the course of her employment for Wyeth. Donna was reimbursed for her travel expenses and the use of her car by Wyeth. Donna sustained personal injuries as a result of her involvement in a motor vehicle accident while using her own automobile in the course of her employment with Wyeth. Donna applied for Workers Compensation benefits. Wyeth and its Workers Compensation Insurance Carrier, Travelers Indemnity Company of America (Travelers) denied Donna's application for benefits. After a hearing before the Workers' Compensation Commission, the Commission awarded benefits to Donna. Both Wyeth and Travelers (the Defendants) appealed.

COURT'S OPINION: The Court of Appeals of Virginia affirmed the award of Workers' Compensation Benefits to Donna. The court held, inter alia, that although the issue of entitlement to benefits in workers' compensation cases often is a mixed question of law and fact, the court had no difficulty in determining that the award of benefits to Donna was clearly warranted since there was no question whatsoever in the court's mind that Donna was injured in the course of her employment and was thus entitled to benefits. In fact, the record failed to reveal a scintilla of evidence that Donna's injury was not work-related. The court concluded that the findings of the Workers' Compensation Commission are, in fact, "binding on the court when those findings are based on credible evidence." The court noted that the record showed that Donna was, in fact, driving back to the hospital after her last scheduled home visit of the day to attend a mandatory in-service training program at the hospice office. The court ignored the fact that Donna had looked at her cell phone before the accident. A dissenting- judge predicated his dissent upon the fact that Donna had momentarily looked at her cell phone while driving to her assigned destination. Editor's Note: Needless to say, the dissentingjudge overlooked that in a workers' compensation case even if we were to assume, arguendo, that Donna may have been...

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