Progressive Insurance may have to pay benefits to injured worker
In Progressive Insurance v. Contract Towing, Inc., the Court of Appeals concluded that a jury must be impaneled to resolve the factual issue of whether an injured man was an "employee" or merely a "hanger-on." The injured man, Larry Dodson, was hurt while performing maintenance on a Contract Towing truck insured by Progressive. The Progressive policy excluded coverage for any injury to an employee of Contract Towing.
In a pre-trial hearing, the court concluded that Dodson was not an employee because he had never been paid for his services, even though he showed up on a daily basis, five days per week. The owner, James Wilson, who had provided Dodson with a place to live, meals and occasional spending money, testified that none of these benefits were "bargained for compensation" and that his support of Dodson was a charitable effort. The Court of Appeals determined that resolving Dodson's status as an employee was a factual question involving issues of credibility. Therefore it could not be decided by the court in a pre-trial ruling.