Daniel Kelbe worked at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). One day after signing out of work, Kelbe began his commute home down Ames Street. He was injured in an accident involving his scooter, and he sought temporary total incapacity benefits. Generally, employers are not liable for injuries sustained by employees when traveling to and from work, with limited exceptions.
Kelbe argued that he had not technically left MIT's premises when he was injured, because the University owned the buildings on either side of the street and he was forced to use that street to exit from where he had parked his scooter. He also argued that MIT exercises control over the area because it plows the street in the winter and its campus police patrol the street.
The judge disagreed with Kelbe's logic. The judge explained that Kelbe chose to drive his scooter that day instead of use public transit as he normally did. He also could have parked his scooter elsewhere—he was not forced to take Ames Street, as Kelbe claimed. Furthermore, even if MIT plowed the street to provide extra access in winter months, ultimately the City of Cambridge was responsible for Ames Street maintenance, and city police have jurisdiction over the area. The appeals court agreed with the trial judge and ruled that Kelbe was not entitled to workers' compensation for his injury.
Note: While it is most often quite clear if an employee was injured on the job or not, sometimes, in cases like this, the answer is not so cut and dry. Schools should ensure that employees are aware they must report work-related injuries immediately so the school can properly make a record of what happened, in case issues later arise as to the cause or timing of the injury.
In re Kelbe's Case, 85 Mass.App.Ct. 1125 (2014)