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WALSH Jurisdiction Test Applied By South Dakota Supreme Court

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South Dakota Supreme Court Applies WALSH Jurisdiction Test To Injured Trucker

The South Dakota Supreme Court recently covered the WALSH Jurisdiction Test for jurisdiction in a recent decision.   Let us look at the five factors of this test and how they were applied in this case.

pic of mount rushmore walsh test south dakota
Wikimedia Public Use License – Dean Franklin

I first saw this case in the WorkCompCentral Headlines last week.  I decided to download the case directly from the court.  You can find the file here.

The case was Stella Anderson vs. TriState Construction.  The carrier was Cincinnati Insurance Company.

The WALSH jurisdiction test is an acronym for:

  • Worked
  • Accident
  • Lived
  • Salaried
  • Hired

I have written about this acronym several times over the last 20 years.   Employees that work and live near a state border town or truckers seem to be the cases where the WALSH jurisdiction test must be applied to determine which state jurisdiction will handle the file.

Where the injured employee worked has the most weight.  The state of hire is the least important.

Truck drivers’ file jurisdiction can be very complicated as they tend to work in multiple states.   Often, the injured trucker will file for benefits in the state that has the best benefits, as was done later in this case.

Please note the employer and carrier provided timely Wyoming benefits.

Case Background From The South Dakota Supreme Court Decision

Truck Driver walsh jurisdiction test driving
Wikimedia Commons – Veronica538

I denoted the WALSH jurisdiction test determinations from the decision.  These are passages from the South Carolina Supreme Court Decision.

The facts of this case are straightforward. On August 25, 2018, Anderson was hired to work for Tri State as a truck driver. Tri State specialized in the preparation of construction sites, trucking, and the sale and delivery of aggregate materials.

Organized as a South Dakota limited liability company, Tri State placed its headquarters in Belle Fourche, South Dakota, and hired four office employees to operate its accounting, payroll, and human resources divisions from its Belle Fourche office.

All of Tri State’s other employees worked outside of South Dakota, including Anderson and her direct supervisor. Anderson, who resided in Spearfish, South Dakota,  (Lived) worked primarily in Wyoming. (Worked)

About thirty percent of Anderson’s duties required trips into Montana. 

When applying for the position, Anderson was interviewed and offered employment in the Belle Fourche office. The parties do not dispute that the employment contract was executed in South Dakota. (Hired)

She picked up her first paycheck at the Belle Fourche office as well as her direct deposit paystubs every two
weeks thereafter, although her paychecks after the first one were directly deposited. (Salaried)

On October 5, 2018, the day before her scheduled Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) training at the Belle Fourche office, Anderson was injured in a traffic accident in Colony, Wyoming, when the truck she was driving
slid on a curve in the road and rolled into the ditch. (Accident)

Gavel walsh jurisdiction test on the table with books
Public Domain – Joe Gratz

Many more aspects of the decision can be found in the PDF of the case.  See the first link to download it.  Reading it over would be a good idea.  Let’s cover the Walsh jurisdiction test.

  • Worked – Multiple states – this one can be complicated for truckers.  The injured employee had to drive from South Dakota as the truck was located in South Dakota at night – the majority of work was in Wyoming.  Some work was in Montana.
  • Accident – Wyoming, but on the way to South Dakota HQ for training
  • Lived – South Dakota
  • Salaried – South Dakota
  • Hired – South Dakota

WALSH Jurisdiction Test Sometimes Causes A Tie

This one was hard to determine.  Which state did the South Dakota Supreme court assign as the prominent jurisdiction? The case can be downloaded to see the final decision. Please see the first link in red.

 

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James Moore

Raleigh, NC, United States

About The Author...

James founded a Workers’ Compensation consulting firm, J&L Risk Mgmt Consultants, Inc. in 1996. J&L’s mission is to reduce our clients’ Workers Compensation premiums by using time-tested techniques. J&L’s claims, premium, reserve and Experience Mod reviews have saved employers over $9.8 million in earned premiums over the last three years. J&L has saved numerous companies from bankruptcy proceedings as a result of insurance overpayments.

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