yes 941500 640

How the Court Ruled

29 Jun, 2023 Chris Parker

yes 941500 640

If you chose B, you sided with the court in Barker v. Sam Houston State University, No. 06-22-00076-CV (Tex. Ct. App. 06/22/23), which held that the professor, though not engaging in work at the time, was in the course and scope of her employment when she was injured.

Under the rule known as the "access doctrine," the court reasoned, the course and scope of employment includes not only the actual doing of the work, but a reasonable margin of time and space necessary to be used in passing to and from the place where the work is to be done.

Workers' Comp 101: In OCI Beaumont LLC v. Barajas, 520 S.W.3d 83 (Tex. App. 2017), the court provided a working definition of the "access doctrine" in a footnote, explaining, "The 'access doctrine' is used by courts in workers' compensation cases as a limited exception to the more general rule recognizing that compensation benefits do not extend to injuries incurred by employees going to and from work. Under the 'access doctrine,' employees injured while going to or from work, if on routes designated by their employers and at locations near where they work, may receive compensation benefits 'where such access route or area is so closely related to the employer's premises as to be fairly treated as a part of the premises.'"

Here, although the professor was going to lunch or running an errand and was not "on the Company's clock" at the time, the court remarked, “she was walking to her car in the SHSU parking lot, her actions and the collision were so closely connected with her employment as to render it an incident thereto.”

Further, even if the university did not own the roadway, given that it was within the campus and directly outside the building where the professor taught, it was in such proximity and relation as to be in practical effect a part of SHSU's premises.

Because the professor was within the course and scope of employment when she was injured, the court held that workers’ compensation was her exclusive remedy and her negligence lawsuit was therefore history.

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