The North Carolina Supreme Court has denied workers' compensation coverage to two state workers seriously injured in an automobile accident while returning from a holiday lunch in a state-owned vehicle driven by a state employee.
In the consolidated appeal of Graven v. N.C. Dept. of Public Safety, the court held the injuries did not occur within or arise during their term of employment, as the lunch, although encouraged by supervisors, was not a mandatory work function. Further, the vehicle in which they were passengers was not authorized for transport to the lunch, and a supervisor would later testify that if a request had been made for such use, it would have been denied.
The decision is a devastating blow for the two state highway patrol technical services workers, one of whom was paralyzed from the chest down and the other of whom suffered head trauma. Our Charlotte workers' compensation lawyers recognize this case reveals the importance of proving to the court that an injury was directly related to one's work. Here, the totality of the exact circumstances was critical to the court's findings. This is why our workers' compensation attorneys dedicate so much time to analysis of the case prior to trial.