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AOE-COE: Arising out of and in the course of the employment

To be compensable, an injury has to arise out of and be in the course of the employment. Labor Code §3600

“Arising out of” means the injury was proximately caused by the employment: “That is, the employment and the injury must be linked in some causal fashion....However, "[i]f we look for a causal connection between the employment and the injury, such connection need not be the sole cause; it is sufficient if it is a contributory cause.” (See Maher below).

“In the course of” refers to the time, place, and circumstances under which the injury occurs, and generally requires the employee to be doing  those reasonable things which the employment expressly or impliedly requires or permits.  

“AOE-COE” is liberally construed pursuant to Labor Code §3202. There are rules that limit employer liability (see Defenses). For example, the “going and coming” rule is based on the notion that the employee is not ordinarily rendering services to the employer while commuting. Buy there are many exceptions to the rule that create employer liability, such as special missiion, errand, company parking lot. In Hinojosa v. WCAB (1972) 8 Cal.3d 150, the Supreme Court noted:

“The interest of the employer lies in his desire to be immune from liability for the employee's injury or death that occurs in the everyday transit from home to office or plant; the contrary interest of the employee lies in his desire to be protected from loss by injury or death that occurs in the non-routine transit, or results from the means of transit or the use of a car undertaken for the employer for his benefit at his direct or implied request.”

In Hinson v. WCAB (1974) 42 Cal.App.3d 246, the Court of Appeals revisited Hinojosa and its analysis of the rule and concluded:

“While the question of whether Hinson was injured in the course of his employment is one of law, the subsidiary questions of whether he was required to use his own car as a condition of his employment, and whether the use of his car in going from the shop to his tractor was such a "special" circumstance as to extend the employment relationship to the daily transit from and to his home, under the record before us, are questions of fact.”

Label Item Links Comments
Labor Code Liability ... shall, without regard to negligence, exist against an employer for any injury sustained by his or her employees arising out of and in the course of the employment....
LC §3600 This threshold issue is highly litigated and fact-dependent with various exceptions to the general rule.
  Liberal construction "with the purpose of extending....benefits for the protection of persons injured in the course of their employment." LC §3202  
  Burden of proof: preponderance of evidence (see Evidence) LC §3202.5  
Cases Maher v. Workers' Comp. Appeals Bd. (1983) 33 Cal.3d 729 , 190 Cal.Rptr. 904; 661 P.2d 1058  Maher  
Practice Tips "Who, what, where, when, and why?" The questions always in the minds of news reporters and journalists are good ones to ask and answer at the outset of litigation.    

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