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April 30, 2008
Court Denies Comp to Worker Who Fell Asleep Driving Home

An employee on Boston's Big Dig project who was injured in a collision that occurred when he fell asleep while driving home was denied workers' compensation benefits by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. Michael Haslam, a foreman on the giant public works project, had been at work more than 20 hours when he drove home from the site. Haslam testified that he stayed in order to oversee the pouring of concrete, which had been significantly delayed.

Haslam had argued that he should be considered an exception to the "going and coming rule," under which injuries that occur while traveling to and from a fixed place of employment are not usually covered. But the court disagreed, reversing an earlier decision by the state Department of Industrial Accidents.

Wrote Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall: "We need not decide in this case whether a requirement by an employer that an employee work overtime to such an extent that the employee's trip home is made substantially more hazardous can give rise to a compensable injury." She said Haslam did not meet the burden of showing that he was required by his employer to work beyond the usual shift. Michael Haslam's Case, SJC-09915, (4/8/08).

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