Tammy Frost worked as a volunteer emergency medical technician for Salter Path Fire and Rescue. On October 3, 2001, Salter Path sponsored and paid for an annual “fun day” event at the Lost Treasures Golf and Raceway. The Chief of Salter Path EMS encouraged Frost to attend in her capacity as an EMS captain.
Frost planned to give a “pep” speech to volunteers during the event, but was injured in a go-cart accident at Lost Treasures. Frost was eventually diagnosed with a cervical sprain and thoracic strain and contusion.
Frost filed a workers’ compensation claim, seeking coverage for her injuries. Salter Path denied the claim, arguing that Frost’s injuries did not occur in the course and scope of her employment.
The North Carolina Court of Appeals upheld Frost’s claim. The Court cited several factors to consider when a workers’ compensation claim is filed for injuries suffered during a recreation event. Among the factors that argued in favor of workers’ compensation for Frost were the facts that: (1) Salter Path sponsored the event; (2) Salter Path encouraged Frost to attend the event; (3) Salter Path financed the event; and (4) Salter Path benefited from the event, “not merely in a vague way through better morale and good will, but through such tangible advantages as having an opportunity to make speeches and awards.”
As the Court put it, “without the continuing participation of volunteers, Salter Path would have no organization. Keeping the Fire and Rescue organization operational with volunteers is tangible indeed. Thus, the benefits of building morale and camaraderie are tangible.”
The Court found that these factors, taken together, “establish a sufficient nexus between Frost’s injury and her employment to permit the award of workers’ compensation.”
Frost v. Salter Path Fire and Rescue, 2006 WL 538068 (N.C.App. 2006).
This article appears in the April 2006 issue