Connecticut: Special Statute Providing Benefits to Police Officers and Firefighters Injured During “Commute” Did Not Apply to Injury in Officer’s Driveway

The basic “going and coming” rule, in effect in the vast majority of jurisdictions, is that for an employee having fixed hours and place of work, injuries sustained going to and from work do not arise out of and in the course of the employment [see Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 13.01, et seq.]. Connecticut has a special statute [Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31–275(1)] that expands the course of employment of a police officer so as to encompass his or her “departure” from (and return to) one’s place of abode to duty.

A state appellate court recently held that the state’s Workers’ Compensation Review Board did not err when it determined that a police officer’s injury, which occurred when he slipped on a patch of ice located on his driveway as he walked to his motor vehicle to drive to work, was not compensable [see Perun v. City of Danbury, 2013 Conn. App. LEXIS 306 (June 11, 2013)]. The court acknowledged that § 31–275(1)(A)(i) expanded the course of employment of a police officer so as to encompass his departure from his place of abode to duty, but the court also observed that pursuant to § 31–275(1)(E)(i), injuries sustained at the officer’s place of abode were not compensable. Drawing a fine line, the court indicated that the commute did not begin when the police officer or firefighter broke the plane of his or her front door: an injury occurring in a driveway did not occur in the course of employment.

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