Louisiana Workers’ Compensation laws can be applied to work injuries that occur while an employee is working outside of Louisiana. Louisiana Revised Statute 23:1035.1 provides extraterritorial coverage to an employee injured while working outside the territorial limits of Louisiana. Specifically, this statute provides in pertinent part:
(1) If an employee, while working outside the territorial limits of this state, suffers an injury on account of which he, or in the event of his death, his dependents, would have been entitled to the benefits provided by this Chapter had such injury occurred within this state, such employee, or in the event of his death resulting from such injury, his dependents, shall be entitled to the benefits provided by this Chapter, provided that at the time of such injury:
(a) his employment is principally localized in this state, or
(b) he is working under a contract of hire made in this state.
Intent of Contract
It is not enough for the employee to be merely domiciled in Louisiana. The Louisiana Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal has determined that if the employee’s job is not principally localized within Louisiana, the contract for hire must have been made in Louisiana. Petticrew v. Abacus Capital Corp./North American Kiln Service, Inc. & LWCC, 07-405(La. App. 5 Cir. 12/11/07), 974 So.2d 692. In determining the locale of a contract for hire, it is well settled that the parties’ intent should be paramount. Id., citing Parr v. U.S. Exp. Enterprises, Inc., 06–320, p. 3 (La. App. 5 Cir. 10/31/06) , 946 So.2d 178, 180; Moore v. KLLM, Inc., 96–38, p. 8 (La. App. 5 Cir. 4/30/96), 673 So.2d 1268, 1272. Some of the factors the court will consider in determining the parties’ intent include: the domicile of the parties, the nature of the work to be done, and the place where the employment was initiated. Id.
Resolution of Coverage
As noted by H. Alston Johnson, III, “Confection of a contract of employment in Louisiana is the element most often cited by Louisiana courts in permitting application of Louisiana law to out-of-state injuries. Though it is obvious that there may be considerable dispute about whether the facts in any given case justify a conclusion that a contract of employment was completed in this state, there appears to be no deviation from the rule that if a contract of employment was formed in Louisiana, this state has sufficient interest in the resolution of the affair to apply its law.” 14 Louisiana Civil Law Treatise, Workers’ Compensation Law and Practice § 406 at 404 (4th ed. 1994) The rationale for this principle, offered in the first decision reaching the issue, Hargis v. McWilliams Co., Inc.,119 So. 88 (Orl. Cir. 1928), is that the Act forms part of every contract made in Louisiana for the employment of labor and carries with it the appropriate liability for work-related injuries within or without the state. Any other view would leave the worker “without remedy or relief” contrary to the objective and spirit of the Act. Id. at 405.
The question of whether an employee who sustains an out-of-state injury was working under a Louisiana employment contract is a very fact-specific inquiry and is one that must be examined at on a case by case basis. However, this is an issue that your legal counsel can help you address prior to making any important decisions regarding the applicability of Louisiana law to an out-of-state accident sustained by your employee.
Allen & Gooch is providing this legal update for informational purposes only. This article should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion as to any specific facts or circumstances. You should consult your own attorney concerning your particular situation and any specific legal questions you may have.