As previously discussed, Section 10 of the Worker’s Compensation Act operates to generally strip you of your right to sue if you are injured in the course of your employment by someone else in the course of their employment. One of most litigated issues with respect to this bar arises when people are in collisions commuting to and from work. Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, addressing such a scenario.
In this week’s case (Franzke v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal) the Plaintiff was injured while driving home from her usual place of employment. She was employed in the insurance industry. Her job required her to have a Driver’s Licence and to occasionally work away from the office.
On the day of the collision the Plaintiff left her office early in the face of an expected snow storm. She took files home with her with an intention of working from home for the balance of the day and depending on road conditions perhaps for some time beyond that.
In the course of her lawsuit the Defendants argued that these circumstances brought the commute within the “course of employment” stripping her of the right to sue. The matter was put before the Workers Compensation Appeal Tribunal (WCAT) who agreed. While WCB’s Policy 18 states in part that “the general position is that accidents occurring in the course of travel from the worker’s home to the normal place of employment” is not an activity in the course of employment here the Plaintiff’s intention to work from home was crucial with WCAT finding that “the intention of the worker was given significant weight and was determinative“.
The Plaintiff asked the BC Supreme Court to review this decision arguing that it was patently unreasonable. Madam Justice Ross disagreed and refused to disrupt WCB’s decision. In doing so the Court reached the following conclusion:
 I have concluded that the Original Decision was not patently unreasonable and that the hearing was fair with no denial of natural justice. In addition, I have concluded that the decision of the Reconsideration Panel to dismiss the application for reconsideration was correct. In the result, the petition is dismissed.