Normally, plaintiff in Kelly v. Blue Ribbon Linen Supply Inc. wouldn’t have been driving for any work-related purpose. She worked at a fixed location at a retail store. She did travel to and from work, but of course, state workers’ compensation laws in Idaho (where this case unfolded), as in North and South Carolina, prohibit benefits for injuries that occur during the daily commute (known as the “coming-and-going” rule).
But in November of 2013, she was traveling 125 miles away from home at the request of her employer’s workers’ compensation insurer to undergo an independent medical exam. This request was made with the understanding that if she didn’t go, she would forfeit any right to workers’ compensation benefits for an earlier claim stemming from a foot injury caused when a shopping cart rolled over it.
An independent medical exam is often ordered by an employer’s insurance company to resolve questions about a claimant’s medical condition, including the degree of impairment. Claimant went to this exam. On her return, which involved no stops or detours, a sport utility vehicle traveling the opposite direction on the highway crossed the center line and struck her vehicle head-on. Nothing claimant did caused or even contributed to the crash. As a result of that impact, she suffered severe injuries to her lower extremities, and had to be placed in a skilled nursing facility for four months after the crash. Some of her injuries may be lifelong. Continue reading