Our client and friend, Sam Allen, is a rising star for a “leading broadband connectivity company and cable operator serving more than 32 million customers in 41 states.” But he’s not your average “cable guy.”
A Hilliard-Davidson grad who developed a love for technology from his dad, Sam has been with the company for nearly four years and has already been promoted several times since then. As a field technician (at the time of his injury in March 2022), he typically worked until 10 p.m. or so. Field technicians typically start their day by “clocking in” on their work cellphones and “clocking out” via their cellphones at the end of the work day.
Sam had clocked out and was driving the company van home (which is standard procedure as it lets the employees hit the ground running to their first appointment the next day) when he got into an accident on Interstate 70 west of Wilson Road. His van got trapped between a semi-trailer and a car. The Columbus Fire Department had to get Sam out of the wreckage and he was taken to Grant Trauma Center by ambulance with a fractured skull, brain bleed, concussion, and a broken leg.
The question in Sam’s case didn’t involve determining “what happened” or the nature of his injuries; it was whether or not he had a workers’ compensation claim.
To have a valid claim in Ohio, an injury must arise out of, and be sustained in the course of, employment. In Sam’s case, he had clocked out. Typically, this would mean his workday was over, and his claim wouldn’t be valid. In Ohio, generally, injuries on the way to or from work are not compensable as workers’ compensation claims. But, like holes in Swiss cheese, there are exceptions to the general rule. Sam was driving in a company van sporting the company logo. He could’ve been called out again to another job.
His situation wasn’t clear-cut either way, and the initial Industrial Commission ruling would likely be appealed to a court (meaning more expense and it would be drawn out even longer than the administrative hearings). So, it required creative thinking.
Ohio Workers Compensation Client Has Successful Claim Outcome
Fortunately, having done this long enough, I know most players on the field, including the defense attorney representing the employer. We approached the company’s disability insurance provider about covering the medical costs and Sam’s time off work. At first, they balked as Sam had the workers’ compensation claim pending (company disability and health insurance does not like to pay for work injuries); so, since a claim may be withdrawn and refiled within a year of the injury, we withdrew it. Insurance companies are more maddeningly slow than the workers’ compensation process, so ultimately, we refiled his workers’ comp claim while waiting for the insurance provider to make its decision. They finally agreed to the reimbursements, and Sam closed his claim and kept his employment. Sam was happy to get the bills and paid time off, his employer was thrilled to keep an excellent employee, and I was grateful that “outside-the-box thinking” could help a great guy.
Fortunately, Sam has recovered and is back to rock climbing in Kentucky and West Virginia while still moving up the company ladder. Keep an eye out for when he’s promoted to running the company!