What is the Walsh Test and why does it matter?

The W.A.L.S.H. Test is an acronym to determine which state has jurisdiction for a Workers Compensation Claim when more than one state is involved in the incident. This is most relevant for businesses who operate across state lines. This applies whenever an injury occurs in a state away from a company’s primary headquarter, and is a way the courts use to determine how workers’ compensation coverage will apply.

Walsh is an acronym judges use to determine jurisdiction for a workers’ compensation claim. The acronym stands for:

  • Worked
  • Accident
  • Lived
  • Salaried
  • Hired

The weight of each part of the jurisdiction depends on the position of the term in the acronym W.A.L.S.HWorked carries the most importance and Hired has the least importance when considering jurisdiction. The higher on the list the higher the relevance in relation to jurisdiction.

This comes in to play when a city, like Kansas City, MO for example, has businesses frequently operating in more than one state. More complicated instances occur with trucking companies or in the airline industry. One hypothetical example might be where a truck driver lives in Iowa. The truck driver gets hired by XYZ Trucking Company just across the border in Minnesota. XYZ Trucking Company is headquartered in California, which is where the truck driver is salaried. The truck driver gets in to a wreck in Georgia.

  • Worked –           Many states
  • Accident –          Georgia
  • Lived –                Iowa
  • Salaried –           California
  • Hired –                Minnesota

In this instance Georgia would probably have Jurisdiction. This is because the truck driver works in many different states, so W would lose relevance. Where the Accident took place is next on the Walsh Test. The fact that the truck driver Lived in Iowa has less relevance to this case.  So does the fact they were Salaried in California or were Hired in Minnesota.

Salaried and Hired are typically lowest on the totem pole because they have the least to do with the accident itself. The fact that a truck driver is Salaried in California and was Hired in Minnesota does not have much to do with a workers’ compensation claim regarding an Accident in Georgia.

Where the employee Worked and where the Accident took place have the highest relevance. This is because where the worker does business most of the time and where the accident took place have the most to do with this specific occurrence.

The one situation where the W.A.L.S.H. does not take effect is in monopolistic states. These states are North Dakota, Ohio, Washington and Wyoming. These monopolistic states require an employer to obtain workers compensation insurance from a compulsory state fund or qualify as a self-insurer.  It is critically important to let your agent know everything your business is doing and especially where. This can allow your agent to provide the correct coverage to protect your business when an occurrence takes place in one of these monopolistic states.

So the W.A.L.S.H. Test is a tool judges use to determine jurisdiction in Workers’ Compensation Claims.  It is relevant to businesses who operate across state lines. Where your employees do their work can make all the difference in your company being liable for a Workers Compensation Claim — and to determine if your policy will cover the claim. Talk long and honestly with your agent about where and how you do business, and make sure that you have a state listed in section 3A of your workers compensation policy if you have an employee that might get injured in another state.