Devine v. Great Divide Insurance Company: Workers’ Compensation Appeals

Devine v. Great Divide Insurance Company, an appeal from the Supreme Court of Alaska, involves claimant who was working at concrete pouring job site when he was attacked by another employee. Claimant was the owner of Company B.

traffic-warning-sign-1-1102879-m.jpgAccording to the court record, there were two independently owned and operated masonry contractors operating in the remote geographic area in which this work-related accident occurred. One of the companies (Company A) had purchased a general commercial liability (GCL) policy but did not purchase a workers’ compensation insurance policy.

On the day of the work-related accident, there was only one cement truck available for rent, and both Company A and the other company (Company B) needed the truck, as they both had jobs to perform. Company A had already reserved the truck that day. Company A offered to help Company B with its concrete pouring job, so the work would be completed sooner, and the truck would be available for Company B’s job. Company A accepted help from the other company but did not pay Company B for its work on the first concrete pouring job.

Company A hired another worker to help with pouring job and provided him a place to stay. According to Company B’s civil complaint, Company A knew this worker to be a violent and dangerous person with a history of assault and other criminal behavior.
On the day of the accident, claimant, again the owner of Company B, was injured when this allegedly dangerous employee hired by Company A attacked him. Prior to the attack, employee had allegedly told his employer he was angered by claimant’s presence on the job site. His employer gave him two Valium tablets and requested that he take them and calm down. At some point later, employee came up to claimant and allegedly punched him in the back of the head and then punched him again, causing him to fall down onto a concrete stake and into the still wet concrete. Claimant was significantly injured in this workplace attack.

At this point, claimant filed a suit against employee and his employer, Company A. Company A’s GCL policy provider said this attack was covered by the policy, because claimant was a volunteer employee, and his exclusive remedy against employer should be a workers’ compensation claim. As our Rock Hill workers’ compensation attorneys can explain, when an employee is injured on the job, he is generally precluded from filing a civil suit against employer if eligible to file a claim for workers’ compensation.

At this point, insurance company filed a motion for summary judgment, asking the case be dismissed, as the proper remedy was workers’ compensation, and trial court granted this motion. Plaintiff appealed this order dismissing his claim against plaintiff. On appeal, the court look at the definition of an accident rising out of the course of employment and applied that definition to the facts of this case.

Ultimately, the court concluded claimant was a volunteer employee, and, therefore, his exclusive remedy was under workers’ compensation. The remaining issue is employer did not have workers’ compensation insurance, so claimant must rely upon a provision for that contingency in the workers’ compensation act.

If you have been injured at work, contact the Lee Law Offices at 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:
Devine v. Great Divide Insurance Company , March 17, 2015, , May 15, 2015, Alaska Supreme Court

More Blog Entries:
Bike v. Johnson & Johnson Health Care – Workers’ Comp Benefits in Spite of Underlying Injury, March 28, 2015, Rock Hill Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog

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