Florida Appeals Court Reverses Lower Court Decision in Rental Car Shooting Workers’ Compensation Case

In a recent case, the First District Court of Appeals in Florida issued an opinion in an appeal involving a benefits dispute between a rental car employee (the Employee) and Normandy Insurance Company (Normandy) on behalf of his employer, Value Car Rental, LLC. The Employee filed a petition for benefits after he was shot seven times at close range by an unidentified shooter while at work for Value Car. The parties stipulated that the shooting occurred in the course and scope of the Employee’s employment with Value Car, so the only issue in dispute was whether the injuries he sustained in the shooting arose out of the work he performed for Value Car. At trial, the Judge of Compensation Claims (JCC), found that the injuries sustained by the Employee arose out of the work he performed for Value Car, and subsequently awarded him benefits. Normandy appealed the decision to the appellate court, which disagreed with the JCC decision, setting the JCC order aside.

The Employee worked as the general manager of the Value Car in the Orlando International Airport Holiday Inn. The business was near the airport and an industrial park. The premises of the car rental business consisted of a kiosk desk inside the hotel atrium and an office in a separate building next to the hotel swimming pool. One night, the Employee was walking from the kiosk desk to the office building with the last rental agreement of the night, he was shot seven times by an unknown assailant. Video footage captured the incident, and showed the assailant shooting the Employee, beginning to walk away, before shooting him several more times. The assailant did not attempt to rob or take anything from the Employee. Despite his injuries, he made it to the hotel lobby, where a hotel guest came to his aid, he stated that “Robert shot me” and said the police should look for a blue Mustang. The Employee petitioned for workers’ compensation benefits, including indemnity and medical benefits. Value Car and its insurance carrier, Normandy, denied that the Employee was entitled to benefits.

Following the decision to award the Employee benefits by the JCC, Normandy appealed. The Normandy appeal argued that the JCC finding was not supported by competent, substantial evidence. The appellate court opinion stated that a two-pronged analysis dictated whether the Employee could be compensated under the Workers’ Compensation Law. The first prong states that there must be “an accidental compensable injury . . . arising out of the work performed in the course and scope of employment.” The second prong states that “for an injury to arise out of and in the course of one’s employment, there must be some causal connection between the injury and the employment or it must have had its origin in some risk incident to or connected with the employment or that it flowed from it as a natural consequence.

The appellate court ultimately found that the Employee did not meet his burden to prove that his injuries suffered arose out of the work he performed for Value Car. The sole cause of his injuries came from the shooting, and the opinion stated that, at most his work placed him in the wrong place at the wrong time, failing to establish occupational causation. The appeals court set aside the JCC’s order awarding benefits.

Have You Suffered Injuries While at Work?

If you or someone you love has suffered from a workers’ compensation or work-related injury in Florida, the lawyers at Friedman Rodman Frank & Estrada can help you understand your rights and the remedies available to you. Our team of attorneys has successfully advocated for workers throughout Florida for 46 years. Expenses and injuries sustained at work can quickly become overwhelming, and having an experienced roster of workers’ compensation attorneys by your side can make a world of difference for your claim. Contact our team at 305-448-8585 to schedule a free and no-obligation initial consultation with a workers’ compensation lawyer at our office.

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