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Dissecting An Early Morning Collision

This March, We Are Going To Dissect The Workers Comp Issues Which Arise From The Following Fact Pattern

Fred and Archie are employees of Northwest Ohio Trash Company, a private trash hauling business. Fred drives a garbage truck with Archie loading the residential trash into the truck. Northwest Ohio Trash has a written work policy prohibiting garbage truck personnel from using cell phones for personal use during work hours. The company also has a policy prohibiting its employees from removing an item of trash from a customer’s property for personal use.

On March 5, 2015, Fred and Archie are working their route picking up trash. When Fred stops the truck on the side of the road to pick up a customer’s trash, Archie exits the cab and walks behind the truck to empty the trash cans placed at the curb. While standing behind the truck, Archie notices a nearly new bike and calls his wife on his cell phone to inform her he plans to bring the bike home for their 10 year old son. While still standing behind the truck, Archie ends the call with his wife and places another call to a co-worker complaining of the hours and working conditions at Northwest Ohio Trash.

During the call between Archie and his co-worker, a car driven by Florence, a traveling nurse in route to her first appointment of the day, runs into Archie, pinning him against the back of the garbage truck. Archie suffers a severe crush injury to both legs and Fred suffers a severe whiplash to his cervical spine. Florence experienced low back pain immediately after the collision.

The police investigation reveals the warning lights on the back of the truck were inoperable at the time of the collision and that Archie was not wearing a reflective vest. A post-accident drug screen found prescription Methadone in Florence’s bloodstream, which had been prescribed by her treating physician for chronic low back pain.

Fred, Archie, and Florence all file workers’ compensation claims. Archie files a personal injury claim against Florence and her employer. Florence files a cross-claim against Northwest Ohio Trash Company.

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