The Supreme Court understands that the casual link between the provision of services and the accident is not broken by the fact that the employee went to shop at a supermarket, as it is a reasonable task amounting to usual and normal behaviour.

Judgement delivered by the Supreme Court on 17 April 2018 [JUR\2018\125923] 

The employee left her workplace, but instead of going directly home, she first went to a nearby shopping centre to purchase some yogurt. 

When leaving the centre, the vehicle in which she was in came to a sudden halt and the woman suffered injuries resulting in a situation of temporary disability.

The accident was qualified as non-work related in the administrative proceedings. This qualifications was upheld by the Labour Court and the High Court of Justice, which dismissed the employee’s claim.

In this regard, the Supreme Court notes that, to qualify an accident as in intinere, the following criteria need to be met: 1) that the main and direct purpose of the trip is determined by work [teleological element]; 2) that it occurs on the usual route from the employee’s home to the workplace or vice versa [geographical element]; 3) that the accident occurred within a reasonable time normally invested in the route [chronological element] or that the journey is not disrupted by unusual diversions or temporary changes owed to reasons of individual interest that break the casual link with the trip to or from work; 4 that the trip is made in a normal mode of transport [suitable mode element].

In this case, the Court understands that three of the four elements constituting a workplace accident are undoubtedly met [teleological; geographic; and suitable mode] and that only a doubt arises regarding the chronological element whose break refers to, not the time invested in the work/home journey, which was usual in its path and duration [the normal mode of transport was used], but the consideration that the beginning was delayed less than an hour due to an exclusively personal task [making a purchase in a nearby supermarket].

The Court resolves the doubt by applying the adaptable precedents which affirm the causality is not broken if “the normal behaviour of the employee corresponds to usual or common tasks”; it is also unnecessary to exclude qualifying the accident as work-related due to “the possibility stopping to perform a reasonable task”; and the reasonableness of expansion to the protection regarding “normal criteria that also show a normal link between the trip and work”.

These precedents leading the Supreme Court to consider the brief temporary postponement cannot be understood as breaking the casual link. The delay from the simple purchase of yogurt can only be understood as a “reasonable task” corresponding to “usual behaviour” and “normal criteria” for behaviour.