Not All Accidents That Occur During Shift Are Covered By Workers’ Compensation

Scott Mills is a state trooper with the New York State Police. Mills was assigned to a detachment in Genesee County. Mills and his wife were also serving as general contractors overseeing the erection of their new home, which was being built on land that was adjacent to the geographical area encompassed by his patrol area.

On November 4, 2004, during the course of his 12-hour shift as a trooper, Mills stopped by his property to evaluate the progress of the builder constructing his home. While there, he stepped on a loose piece of timber, fell, and sustained injuries to his left wrist and left eye. When Mills’ claim for workers’ compensation benefits was denied, he appealed to the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court.

The Court upheld the denial of benefits. The Court reasoned that “while injuries that arise out of and in the course of employment are compensable under the workers’ compensation law, purely personal activities are considered outside the scope of employment and are not compensable. While testimony from Mills’ supervisor established that Mills was not abrogating his duties by stopping by his property during his shift, the record nevertheless supports the conclusion that his accident did not arise out of his employment. Mills’ stated intention upon seeing his builder’s truck in his driveway was to drive up and determine if there were ‘any problems with anything there.’ He admitted that he had not been dispatched to that specific address or even to that particular area, but, rather, that he found himself with time to stop by the house prior to taking his lunch break.”

Mills v. New York State Police, 2007 WL 1774695 (A.D. 2007).

This article appears in the August 2007 issue