Alabama: Injuries Sustained While Seeking Medical Treatment For Earlier Injury Are Compensable

In a case of first impression in Alabama, a state appellate court recently held that injuries sustained while traveling to or from a location to receive treatment for an earlier work-related injury arise out of and in the course of the employment and, therefore, are also compensable [see Flexicrew Staffing, Inc. v. Champion, 2014 Ala. Civ. App. LEXIS 247 (Dec. 12, 2014)]. Following the rationale set forth in an early Kansas decision, Taylor v. Centex Construction Co., 191 Kan. 130, 379 P.2d 217 (1963) and quoting Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 10.07, the court reasoned that, like Kansas, Alabama’s workers’ compensation law provides that an employer subject to the Act must provide medical care to an injured employee [see Code of Ala. § 25–5–31 and § 25–5–51], and that an employee risks losing benefits under the Act if he or she refuses to submit to reasonable medical treatment [Code of Ala. § 25–5–77(b)]. The appellate court held, therefore, that the trial court correctly determined that the injuries the worker sustained as he was traveling from the work site to a health-care facility designated by his employer to obtain initial medical treatment for his work-related injury were compensable.

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