The Court in Gaines Gentry v. Mandujano Clarifies What is Considered to be Work Related in North Carolina Workers’ Compensation

As an interdependent society, we rely on each other in order to go about our daily lives. Everyone has a job or function in order for our society to run smoothly. With this interdependence, it has become customary for traveling to be an integral party of many different jobs. But if you work in North Carolina and are involved in an accident while traveling for business, are you entitled to workers’ compensation?
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The intricacies of North Carolina workers’ compensation can be complex; which is why it is so important to have an experienced North Carolina injury attorney guiding you to the award you deserve.

Gaines Gentry v. Mandujano is a recent case that explores the intricacies of the scope of employment principal in worker’s compensation. This case involved a horse farm groom named Mandujano (claimant) who worked for Gaines Gentry Thoroughbreds (Gaines) in Kentucky. Gaines was associated with another company called Easton Sales (Eaton), which sold horses on consignment. As part of his job duties, claimant was responsible for showing horses for Eaton.

There was a yearling sale taking place in New York, and Eaton had six yearlings to be sold. After working with Gaines for two years, claimant was sent with the six yearlings to New York for the sale. The agreement was for the claimant to travel in the van with the yearlings on the way to New York, and after the six horses were sold, he was to return to Kentucky. Gaines did not provide return transportation for the claimant, as he was left to his own devices. Once the claimant had sold his employers’ six horses, the claimant stayed in New York to work with another horse seller in the selling of lesser quality horses.

Claimant was driving back to Kentucky from the sale in New York when he was involved in a serious car accident that caused his to suffer severe injuries. Claimant had extensive dental injuries, cervical and lumbar spine injuries, and skull fractures. Once the claimant recovered, he returned to work with Gaines and entered a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.

Claimant entered this claim for benefits because he was driving back to Kentucky as part of his job activities. On the other hand, Gains argued that because the claimant had stayed in New York longer than he was supposed to, the injuries he sustained because of the car accident were non work related.

The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) responsible for making a determination of benefits for workers’ compensation purposes found that the claimant was entitled to workers’ compensation benefits because he was traveling as part of his employment. The facts that supported this contention included the fact that Gaines who was acting as the claimant’s employer instructed the claimant to travel to the sale with the horses. Had the claimant not agreed to travel, Gaines would have sent another employee. Additionally, the ALJ pointed out that Gaines paid the claimant to travel to New York, and because Gaines did not provide for his return trip, claimant was free to return in the best way he could.

Thus, where an employee is traveling back to his job location to undertake his usual duties, and where he is returning from a location where he was sent to work, any injuries sustained in an accident returning from a work trip is considered work-related.

Therefore, this ALJ’s decision was upheld by the state court and the claimant received workers’ compensation benefits.

If you have been injured, contact our North Carolina and South Carolina injury attorneys to discuss your case free of charge. Call 1-800-533-6845.

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