1. Agreeably to the principles sustaining state workmen's
compensation laws as consistent with the Fourteenth Amendment, an
employer may be required to compensate his employee for an injury
of which his employment is a substantially contributory cause,
though not the sole or proximate one. P. 263 U. S.
2. Whether an accident is so related to the employment that
exaction of compensation may escape condemnation as clearly
arbitrary and unreasonable must depend upon the particular
circumstances of the case. P. 263 U. S.
3. An employee, going to work at his employer's factory by the
customary and only practicable way, was killed by a locomotive
while crossing, on a public road, a railroad adjacent to the plant
a few minutes before the time when his day's service as a
stationary engineer was to begin. Held
that imposition of
liability on the employer for the benefit of the workman's
dependents by a state compensation law was constitutional. P.
263 U. S.
60 Utah 161 affirmed.
Error to a judgment of the Supreme Court of Utah affirming an
award of workmen's compensation by the Utah Industrial
Page 263 U. S. 421
MR. JUSTICE SUTHERLAND delivered the opinion of the Court.
This case arises under the provisions of the Utah Workmen's
Compensation Act which provides for the payment of compensation for
personal injury or death of an employee by accident "arising out
of, or in the course of his employment." Compiled Laws Utah 1917, §
3113, and amendment by Laws Utah 1919, c. 63.
The Cudahy Packing Company, on August 9, 1921, and prior
thereto, owned and operated a meatpacking plant at a point about
six miles north of Salt Lake City. Its employees generally resided
in that city and in villages located north and south of the plant,
only a few living in the immediate vicinity thereof.
In going to and form the plant, the workmen proceeded along a
main highway running north and south and passing the plant at a
distance of about half a mile to the east. From this point, a
public road runs west to and beyond the plant, crossed, before
reaching the plant, by three lines of railroad, one of which, the
Rio Grande Western, lies immediately adjacent to, and from which
switches lead directly into, the plant. The only practicable way of
ingress and egress for employees was along this road and across
these railroad tracks, and that was the way customarily used.
Joseph Parramore was, and for a considerable time had been,
employed at the plant at a weekly salary as a stationary engineer.
He lived at Salt Lake City. On the morning of August 9, 1921, he
rode to the plant in the automobile of another employee for the
purpose of going to work. The automobile crossed over two of the
railroad tracks, and, when upon that of the Rio Grande, was struck
by an engine, and Parramore was instantly killed. This happened
about seven minutes before the time when his
Page 263 U. S. 422
service as an engineer was to begin. Upon these facts, the Utah
Industrial Commission awarded compensation to Parramore's
dependents. The supreme court of the state, upon a review, affirmed
the award and held that the accident was one within the terms of
the statute. 60 Utah 161.
By this construction and application of the statute we are
bound, and the case must be considered as though the statute had,
in specific terms, provided for liability upon the precise facts
hereinbefore recited. Ward v. Krinsky, 259 U.
, 259 U. S. 510
The question saved in the state court and presented here is whether
the statute, as thus construed and applied, is valid under the
provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Defendants in error have submitted a motion to dismiss the writ
of error on the ground that no federal question in involved, but it
is clearly without substance, and is overruled.
That the statute is constitutional upon its face is established
by previous decisions of this Court (New York Central R. Co. v.
White, 243 U. S. 188
Hawkins v. Bleakly, 243 U. S. 210
Mountain Timber Co. v. Washington, 243 U.
; Arizona Copper Co. v. Hammer,
250 U. S. 400
Madera Co. v. Industrial Comm'n, 262 U.
), and the only inquiry we need make is whether it
is constitutional as applied and enforced in respect of the facts
of the instant case. See Dahnke-Walker Milling Co. v.
Bondurant, 257 U. S. 282
257 U. S.
-289. It is settled by the decisions of this Court
and by an overwhelming array of state decisions that such statutes
are not open to constitutional objection because they abrogate
common law defenses or impose liability without fault. But the
contention here, shortly stated, is that the accident was one which
occurred off the premises of the employer on a public road, outside
the hours of employment, and while the employee was not engaged in
any business of the employer;
Page 263 U. S. 423
that it was not the result of any industrial risk, but arose
from a common peril to which the public generally was exposed, and
that, consequently, liability is imposed arbitrarily and
capriciously. It may be assumed that, where an accident is in no
manner related to the employment, an attempt to make the employer
liable would be so clearly unreasonable and arbitrary as to subject
it to the ban of the Constitution; but, where the accident has any
such relation, we should be cautious about declaring a state
statute creating liability against the employer invalid upon that
ground. The modern development and growth of industry, with the
consequent changes in the relations of employer and employee, have
been so profound in character and degree as to take away, in large
measure, the applicability of the doctrines upon which rest the
common law liability of the master for personal injuries to a
servant, leaving of necessity a field of debatable ground where a
good deal must be conceded in favor of forms of legislation,
calculated to establish new bases of liability more in harmony with
these changed conditions. Workmen's compensation legislation rests
upon the idea of status, not upon that of implied contract -- that
is, upon the conception that the injured workman is entitled to
compensation for an injury sustained in the service of an industry
to whose operations he contributes his work as the owner
contributes his capital -- the one for the sake of the wages, and
the other for the sake of the profits. The liability is based not
upon any act or omission of the employer, but upon the existence of
the relationship which the employee bears to the employment because
of and in the course of which he has been injured. And this is not
to impose liability upon one person for an injury sustained by
another with which the former has no connection, but it is to say
that it is enough if there be a causal connection between the
injury and the business in which he employees the latter -- a
Page 263 U. S. 424
contributory, though it need not be the sole or proximate cause.
Legislation which imposes liability for an injury thus related to
the employment, among other justifying circumstances, has a
tendency to promote a more equitable distribution of the economic
burdens in cases of personal injury or death resulting from
accidents in the course of industrial employment, and is a matter
of sufficient public concern (Mountain Timber Co. v.
243 U. S. 239
) to escape condemnation as arbitrary,
capricious, or clearly unreasonable. Whether a given accident is so
related or incident to the business must depend upon its own
particular circumstances. No exact formula can be laid down which
will automatically solve every case. The fact that the accident
happens upon a public road or at a railroad crossing, and that the
danger is one to which the general public is likewise exposed, is
not conclusive against the existence of such causal relationship if
the danger be one to which the employee, by reason of and in
connection with his employment, is subjected peculiarly or to an
Upon this question of causal relationship, the English decisions
are instructive. In Pierce v. Provident Clothing and Supply
 1 K.B. 997, where a collector of the
company, while riding a bicycle in the course of his employment,
with the acquiescence of the company, was knocked down and killed
by a tram car, the employer was held liable because, by reason of
his duties, the employee was more exposed to the risks of the
streets than ordinary members of the public. In the opinion by
Buckley, L.J. it is said (p. 1003):
"An accident arises out of the employment where it results from
a risk incidental to the employment, as distinguished from a risk
common to all mankind, although the risk incidental to the
employment may include a risk common to all mankind."
See also Martin v. J. Lovibond & Sons, Limited
, 2 K.B. 227. So, where a workman was employed in a
Page 263 U. S. 425
place and under circumstances exposing him to more than ordinary
risk of injury by lightning, such an injury was held to be one
arising out of the employment. Andrew v. Failsworth Industrial
, 2 K.B. 32.
In Anderson & Co., Limited v. Adamson,
Law Reporter 855, where a workman engaged during a violent gale in
erecting a structure was injured by a slate blown from the roof of
an adjoining building, a risk that all persons were more or less
exposed to, it was held that, as the workman was obliged to work in
a stooping position, and therefore could not see the slate coming,
he was exposed beyond the normal risk, and could recover. The court
"If it is the normal risk merely which causes the accident, the
answer must be that the accident did not arise out of the
employment. But if the position which the workman must necessarily
occupy in connection with his work results in excessive exposure to
the common risk (cf. Ismay's Case
, A.C. 437;
, S.C. 584), or if the continuity or
exceptional amount of exposure aggravates the common risk (cf.
, S.C. 12; Warner
, A.C. 35),
then it is open to conclude that the accident did not arise out of
the common risk, but out of the employment."
The same doctrine has been declared under the American statutes
by many of the states courts. See, for example, Procaccino v.
E. Horton & Sons,
95 Conn. 408; Empire Health &
Accident Ins. Co. v. Purcell,
76 Ind.App. 551; Judson
Manufacturing Co. v. Industrial Accident Commission,
300; Lumbermen's Reciprocal Assn. v. Behnken,
154; De Constantin v. Public Service Commission,
32. The basis of these decisions is that, under the special facts
of each case, the employment itself involved peculiar and abnormal
exposure to a common peril which was annexed as a risk incident to
Page 263 U. S. 426
Here, the location of the plant was at a place so situated as to
make the customary and only practicable way of immediate ingress
and egress one of hazard. Parramore could not, at the point of the
accident, select his way. He had no other choice than to go over
the railway tracks in order to get to his work, and he was, in
effect invited by his employer to do so. And this he was obliged to
do regularly and continuously as a necessary concomitant of his
employment, resulting in a degree of exposure to the common risk
beyond that to which the general public was subjected. The railroad
over which the way extended was not only immediately adjacent to
the plant, but, by means of switches, was connected with it, and,
in principle, it was as though upon the actual premises of the
We attach no importance to the fact that the accident happened a
few minutes before the time Parramore was to begin work, and was
therefore, to that extent, outside the specified hours of
employment. The employment contemplated his entry upon and
departure from the premises as much as it contemplated his working
there, and must include a reasonable interval of time for that
purpose. See Gane v. Norton Hill Colliery Co.
K.B. 539, 544; De Constantin v. Public Service Commission,
In view of the facts and circumstances peculiar to this case, it
was fairly open to the state supreme court to conclude that the
necessary causal relation between the employment and the accident
sufficiently appeared to save it from the constitutional objection,
and its judgment is accordingly
MR. JUSTICE McKENNA, MR. JUSTICE McREYNOLDS, and MR. JUSTICE