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Officer Hit By Car While Walking to Get Coffee Due Workers' Comp

An Oregon appellate court said that Carolyn McDermed was still at work during her coffee run, since she was expected to perform community policing duties while not in her office.

June 29, 2012
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An Oregon police officer who was hit by a car while walking to get coffee is entitled to workers' compensation benefits because the accident happened in the course of her employment, the Oregon Court of Appeals has ruled.

Carolyn McDermed was a police lieutenant for the city of Eugene, Oregon, court records show. She worked for the department's internal affairs office, and most of her duties included office work.

In April 2008, McDermed was struck by a car while she was walking to get a cup of coffee across the street from her office. She suffered multiple injuries to her head, right foot and chest.

The police department denied McDermed's workers' comp claim, arguing that she was injured during a "solely personal mission." But the Oregon Workers' Compensation Board awarded benefits to her after finding that McDermed's injuries arose from her employment.

On June 27, the Oregon Court of Appeals unanimously upheld the board's ruling. In its decision, the appellate court said that McDermed was still at work during her coffee run, since she was expected to perform community policing duties while not in her office.

"When claimant was on duty and on the street, the street was her 'work environment'—and any injury she suffered either as a result of distinctly work-related risks, or of neutral risks associated with that environment to which the conditions of employment exposed her, compensably 'arose out of' her work," the appellate court ruled in upholding the benefits award.

Sheena Harrison writes for Business Insurance, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, email editors@workforce.com.

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