Holler v. WCAB (Tria Wire Engineering Solutions, Inc.), __ A.3d __ (Pa. Cmwlth., No. 2209 C.D. 2013, filed August 22, 2014).
In Holler, the claimant was employed as a cable technician and spent his days traveling to and working at customer locations. The employer permitted the claimant to take the company vehicle home at night and to use it to report to work in the morning. The claimant was injured while driving to work in the company vehicle in a single vehicle accident. A claim was filed and the issue of course and scope was bifurcated. Both the WCJ and Board concluded that the claimant was not in the course and scope of his employment at the time of his injury. The Commonwealth Court reversed.
The Court found that the claimant was exempt from the “going and coming rule” because he was a traveling employee with no fixed place of work. The Court observed that when determining whether an employee is a traveling employee, the remedial nature of the Act must be kept in mind, noting that the Act was designed to benefit the injured worker, and that the Act must be liberally construed in the injured workers’ favor.
Having concluded that the claimant was a traveling employee, the Court then noted that the claimant was entitled to a presumption that he was working for the employer during his drive from home to work. To rebut the presumption, the employer had the burden of establishing that the claimant’s actions at the time of the injury were so far removed from his usual employment, that they constituted an abandonment of employment. The record was devoid of an abandonment of employment. Accordingly, the Court held that the claimant’s injury, sustained while on the way to work, was sustained during the course and scope of employment, and that it was compensable under the Act.