Airport Luggage Transport Driver Recovers Under Personal Comfort Doctrine

A Pittsburgh International Airport airport employee, whose job consisted of driving a luggage transport “tug,” and who sustained serious injuries when she flipped her tug as she traveled to one of the airport terminals to meet her mother—who was delivering feminine hygiene products and other personal items—may recover workers’ compensation benefits under the personal comfort doctrine, held a state appellate court [Starr Aviation v. Workers’ Comp. Appeal Bd. (Colquitt), 2017 Pa. Commw. LEXIS 60 (Mar. 7, 2017). The court agreed with a workers’ compensation judge that the employee’s temporary departure from her duties did not remove her from the course of her employment.

Fault Not an Issue

As a result of the accident, the employee’s left leg was amputated in the area above the ankle and below the knee. Another airport employee testified that at the time of the accident, the claimant was driving too fast for the conditions. The court noted that the employee had her supervisor’s permission to drive the tug to meet her mother. The court concluded that at the time of the accident, she was attending to her personal comfort in order that she could continue to serve her employer’s interest. The court also said it was immaterial whether a reasonable person in the employee’s shoes would have made other arrangements to meet her personal needs. Any perceived fault in calling and making arrangements with her mother was no defense to liability under the Act.

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