Arkansas: The Second You’re Off the Clock, You’re On Your Own

Construing A.C.A. § 11–9–102(4)(B)(iii), which provides in relevant part that a compensable injury does not include any injury inflicted upon the employee at a time when employment services were not being performed, an Arkansas appellate court has affirmed the denial of benefits to a truck driver who injured his right ankle as he left his truck to go to the bathroom [see Trezza v. USA Truck, Inc., 2014 Ark. App. 555, 2014 Ark. App. LEXIS 808 (Oct. 22, 2014)]. That he was on the employer’s premises and attending to his personal comfort made no difference, indicated the court. Under Arkansas’ restrictive “AOE/COE” statutory standard, he could not recover since a few seconds before his injury, he had made an entry in his log changing his status to “off-duty.” The court indicated that the driver was not taking a necessary bathroom break so that he could resume services; he was off work and not required to do anything. 

While this holding is completely consistent with prior Arkansas decisions construing the statute [e.g., Cook v. ABF Freight Systems, Inc., , 88 Ark. App. 86, 194 S.W.3d 794 (2004); Kinnebrew v. Little John’s Trucks, Inc., 66 Ark. App. 90, 989 S.W.2d 541 (1999)], it points out that unlike virtually all other states, where injuries incurred by an employee within reasonable time and distrance parameters of an employee’s “clocking out,” particularly when on the employer’s premises, are held to be within the course of the employment [see Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, §§ 3.01, 26.01 et seq.].

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