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S.W. Ark. Dev. Council, Inc. v. Tidwell

Practice Area: Workers compensation

Outcome: Injured Worker Recieves Workers Comp Benefits

Description: Ms. Tidwell worked as an in-home client service assistant, providing assisted-living services for home-bound persons in southern Arkansas. She had provided services to one client and was driving toward another client's home. En route, she pulled off the highway into a convenience store parking lot to buy a soft drink because she was thirsty. She returned to her vehicle, and as she drove out of the parking lot and back onto the highway, her vehicle was hit by a truck. She filed a claim for the injuries she sustained in the accident. Southwest resisted the claim on the basis that she was not performing employment services at the time of her injury because she had deviated from her job duties. Ms. Tidwell contended that she did not deviate from her duties because this personal need was no different than any other such need in a fixed workplace. She also contended that even if she had "deviated" from her work momentarily, at the time of her injury she was traveling toward the next work site and had resumed her work activities. The administrative law judge denied benefits and she appealed to the Full Commission, which reviewed the relevant case authority and found that her claim was compensable. The employer appealed to the Court of Appeals, arguing that the cases relied on by Ms. Tidwell and the Full Commission were distinguishable because in those cases, the claimant was actually on the employer's premises and, further, that the "coming and going rule" provided that Ms. Tidwell was not entitled to benefits for injuries suffered while traveling to or from work. The Court of Appeals found in favor of Ms. Tidwell, finding that her injuries were incurred while she was acting within the scope of her employment.

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