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Chasing thief off-Site? Injury earns workers’ comp

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in Compensation and Benefits,Human Resources

Generally, workers' compensation won't cover Florida employees when they're injured after leaving the workplace. But that's not the case if the employee left the premises in an emergency to save life or property related to the business.

Recent case: Robert Deutsch, a used car salesman, was on duty in his employer's parking lot when a woman pulled up and grabbed a bubble machine he had bought to attract customers. Deutsch chased after her car and lunged through the open window to recover the machine. The woman took off, dragging Deutsch behind the car. He fell underneath and was run over.

Deutsch lost his first bid for workers' comp because the injury occurred off-premises. On appeal, the court reversed and ordered benefits. It said that when employees respond to an emergency to save life or property, they're still at work. Deviating from his routine didn't mean Deutsch wasn't working at the time. (Deutsch v. Heritage Automotive Enterprises, No. 1D05-669, Court of Appeals of Florida, 2006)

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