Police Chief’s Off-Duty Accident Not Covered By Workers’ Compensation

Stanley Lockman was the Police Chief for the Town of Maringouin, Louisiana. In addition to his law enforcement employment, Lockman also owned a sugar cane hauling truck which he operated as an additional business. On December 6, 2004, Lockman left the Town to visit his mother in the hospital in Baton Rouge. He then brought an employee of his trucking company home. On his way back home, outside of his jurisdiction, Lockman’s vehicle was struck by a drunk driver.

Lockman died as a result of the injuries suffered in the accident. His widow, Shirley Lockman, filed a workers’ compensation claim seeking the payment of benefits. Mrs. Lockman alleged that Lockman was on call 24 hours a day as the Police Chief and, at the time of the accident, was driving in the vehicle provided to him by the Town and thus was in the course and scope of employment.

The Louisiana Court of Appeals rejected the claim for compensation. The Court acknowledged that “an officer outside his normal jurisdiction who stops to assist a wreck, who stops a traffic violator and summons the local agency, who stops to assist a local agency in traffic control or in pursuit of a suspect would be covered if injured. However, Lockman was not performing any law enforcement action at the time of his accident. The workers’ compensation statute requires an officer to be injured while performing a law enforcement action. Therefore, Lockman is not entitled to the benefits of the statute conferring workers’ compensation coverage.”

Lockman v. Town of Maringouin, 2008 WL 5211307 (La.App. 2008).

This article appears in the February 2009 issue