To file a workers’ compensation claim, numerous requirements must be met. For example, certain time limits (which can vary on a case-by-case basis) apply.
Perhaps the most important requirement a workers’ compensation claim must meet is that the injury must arise out of the course employment—meaning that the injury occurred while the employee was working.This rule is why individuals who are injured while driving to and from work are not eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Even though they were driving to their job, Kansas courts have determined that their employment was not the cause of their injuries: they were merely exposed to the same risks of injury that anyone else on the road faces.
A recent case, reported by ABC News, could have significant implications for this requirement in the state of South Dakota.
The case concerns the death of Julie Tassler, who was shot and killed by her husband while on break in the parking lot of her place of employment. Her father, Roger Voeller, is now suing Tassler’s employer, HSBC, and AIG, to collect her workers’ compensation benefits on behalf of her two young children.
Voeller’s attorney, Dean Nasser, is arguing that Tassler’s death arose out of her employment. Nasser stated that her presence at work gave her husband the only opportunity to kill her, as her husband knew her work schedule.
“Our evidence – and it was not refuted – showed [Tassler’s murder] couldn’t have happened anywhere else.”
The attorney for HSBC, however, stated that Tassler’s presence at work did not contribute to her death and that the employer should not have to pay workers’ compensation.
The District Court and the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation ruled against Tassler’s family in 2011. The family then appealed. This year, the South Dakota Supreme Court will decide the case.