Frolic v. Detour

You get into a car accident on your lunch break while driving to the local eatery, or while driving across town to drop off a report for work.  Many people work eight hours a day, five days a week.  That’s forty hours a week that a car accident can happen while you are on the clock.  Whether your injuries are deemed compensable under Illinois law, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and personal property loss, depends on whether you were engaged in a “frolic” or a “detour.”

The employee must prove that the conduct he or she was engaged in at the time of the accident was within the scope of duties that he or she was hired to perform.  A “frolic” occurs where the employee engages in personal business that is separate and unrelated to his or her employment.  A “detour,” occurs when the employee’s deviation for personal reasons is seen as sufficiently related to the employment. 

The best way to differentiate a “frolic” from a “detour” is to determine whether the employee abandoned his or her assigned work duties.  Let’s explore the difference in this example: An employee is given the assignment to drive to the post office a half mile away from her work in order to ship a package to a client. 

Scenario 1: The employee pulls off the road, to run through the drive-through of a coffee shop that is on the way to the post office.  It has already been quite a morning, and she needs that extra cup of joe. While pulling out of the coffee shop parking lot, another car runs into her vehicle. 

Scenario 2: The employee drives five miles in the opposite direction of the post office to pick up her child from school and drive her home.  While driving to the school, another car runs into her vehicle.  

Under Illinois law, Scenario 2 would more likely be held as a frolic, a complete abandonment or deviation from her employment related duties, while Scenario 1 was only a slight deviation, and still sufficiently related to her assigned employment task. 

Luckily for the employee in Scenario 1, her injuries resulting from the car accident are likely compensable under Illinois law.  Too bad, so sad for the employee in Scenario 2, as she will be fighting an uphill battle to prove her actions were still within the scope of her employment.  So next time you are running an errand for your employer, think twice before taking the scenic route. 

This weblog does not constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is intended to be established due to reading this weblog.  If you suffer from the above described injury, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible to ensure that your right to recovery is protected. 

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