Eluid Hinojosa was a sergeant in the Harris County, Texas Constable’s Office. Hinojosa was an advanced accident investigator and reconstructionist.
On the day of his accident, which was a Saturday, Hinojosa was scheduled to begin his shift at 2:00 p.m. On Saturday morning, the precinct to which he was assigned did not have a sergeant on duty. The “sergeant on call” was available to be called to a scene or to assist or supervise deputies on duty.
At 10:00 a.m., Hinojosa signed on as the sergeant on call. After signing on, Hinojosa and several other officers worked escorting funeral processions. Later that morning, Hinojosa received a call from a deputy, requesting his assistance as the sergeant on call. Hinojosa made arrangements to meet with the deputy at a coffee shop. On the way to the coffee shop, Hinojosa was involved in an accident and was injured.
The Texas Court of Appeals upheld an administrative decision granting Hinojosa workers’ compensation benefits. The Court ruled that “Hinojosa was doing more than reporting to work at a different time and place. Hinojosa had signed on for work before he responded to the call for assistance. Several officers testified that Hinojosa was required to respond to the deputy’s request for assistance and was on duty when he responded. The chief of the patrol division testified that based on the facts of this case, he believed Hinojosa was working at the time of his accident.
“Because the evidence supports the finding that Hinojosa was responding to a call for assistance while on duty and thus in the course and scope of his employment, he is entitled to benefits.”
Harris County v. Hinojosa, 2009 WL 1886217 (Tex. App. 2009).
This article appears in the October 2009 issue