Finance

Check for black ice before traveling to work not insured against accidents

Employees are covered by accident insurance on the way to work. But what if the immediate commute to work is briefly interrupted – be it to test the road conditions or to refuel?

Anyone who checks the road in front of the apartment for ice before going to work does so at their own risk. There is no protection of the statutory accident insurance, as decided by the Federal Social Court (BSG) in Kassel (Az: B 2 U 3/16 R).

Regular commute to work interrupted

The Kassel judges thus dismissed a technical employee from the Westerwald district in Rhineland-Palatinate. On March 10, 2013, the German Weather Service issued a black ice warning for the following day. When the employee went to work at 6.40 am the next morning, he put his bag in the car and then went to the street to check whether it was already strewn. On the way back to the car he bent his foot in the rain gutter in front of the curb and fell. He broke his right forearm.

The Rhineland-Palatinate Accident Insurance Fund refused compensation as an accident at work. The way from the car to the road and back had interrupted the regular commute to work and was therefore not insured against accidents.

Ice testing is not necessary

The BSG now followed suit. The work and necessary “preparatory work” are insured against accidents. The “direct way” to work is also considered to be such preparatory work; the employee interrupted this here. There is no traffic law obligation for drivers to check the road conditions before departure.

The Kassel judges emphasized that the behavior of the employee could “have been reasonable in his view”. To delimit the statutory accident protection, however, objective evidence is required. Therefore, not every cautious course of action is insured, even if it may be understandable in individual cases.

According to settled case law, trips to and from work, such as shopping or refueling, are not insured.

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