Are injuries occurring to an employee, hired in Georgia, living in Georgia, while in Georgia, compensable if he or she receives work orders from Minnesota? Your gut instinct may be telling you, “no, of course not”, but the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals (WCCA), just said “yes.” At, least, in the case of Hinkle v. Ruan Transp., Inc. No. WC17-6083 (Jan. 5, 2018).
The general rule, for claims occurring outside of the physical boundaries of the state of Minnesota, is addressed in Minn. Stat. §176.041 subd. 2, which provides that an employee who regularly performs his or her “primary duties of employment” within Minnesota and suffers an injury outside of the state arising out of the course and scope of their employment with that employer, is covered by the Workers’ Compensation Act.
Hinkle v. Ruan and the Importance of the First Report of Injury
In Hinkle, the employee, an over-the-road truck driver, was hired in Georgia and worked for the company for many years. In 2014, he voluntarily resigned in order to make a withdrawal from his retirement account and was re-hired 30 days later. Upon being re-hired, his dispatch site was moved from Georgia to Otsego, Minnesota. He traveled to Minnesota thereafter to complete paperwork, attend a safety meeting, and pick up a load of products. In the ensuing year he delivered products in 20 states, including 19 trips to Minnesota. When he sustained an injury in Georgia, he called an office located in Elk River, to file the First Report of Injury.
The WCCA, noted that nothing in the statute requires employees to spend more time in Minnesota than anywhere else, only that her or she regularly perform their “primary” job duties in Minnesota. Because the employee had traveled to Minnesota 19 times and performed his job duties as an over-the-road trucker there, the WCCA found that he was covered by Minn. Stat. §176.041, subd. 3, extending coverage to employees injured in other states.
Claims involving out-of-state employees are becoming increasingly common as border cities grow, commerce crosses state lines, and web-based companies expand with staff and operations spanning the continent and the globe. Paying attention to the facts can make a substantial difference in how these types of claims are handled.
Claims dealing with out-of-state employees raise complex issues and are subject to changes in the applicable law. For any questions about Minnesota or Wisconsin, please call or e-mail our experienced workers’ compensation attorneys by visiting our Contact Page or calling us at 651-482-8900.