Employees in Germany are by law insured against accidents on their way to work and back home, as long as they chose the shortest possible route. For those taking the car there have been a number of enforceable judgements concerning the matter over the last few decades. Insurers have adjusted their conditions accordingly. But what about those using public transportation? For those there has been a recent court decision.

 

As the Sozialgericht Heilbronn (Aktenzeichen S 13 U 4001/11 X) recently decided, an employee is still covered, even if he is not using the bus station closest to his residence. In this specific case a man was walking to a bus station more than a kilometer from his home. On a crosswalk, he was hit by a car and suffered several fractures in his lower leg. The insurance association refused to recognize the accident as work-related, claiming the man did not use a direct route to work, as there would have been a bus station only 290 meters from his home. The man then took the case to court.

 

The decided that the insurance has to pay. Although the plaintiff could have reached his workplace faster by using the nearer bus station, the overall distance is approximately the same. Generally, people are free to freely choose their mode of transportation, and do not have to always use the fastest possible means to be covered by the insurance. That the man decided to walk for the sake of added exercise due to his heart problems doesn’t change the fact that he was directly on his way straight to work when the accident happened. The ruling is legally binding.

 

Some questions remain, though. This ruling applies to a very specific case. Not everyone wanting to walk to a further away bus stop will be able to claim heart disease as the reason. However, it has been made clear that the law should not be interpreted too strictly, something that insurer should consider when deciding on cases in the future.

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