The 'Going and Coming' Rule
What's called the "going and coming" rule relates to workers' compensation laws. This rule determines if workers can get benefits if they get injured while traveling to or from work. The general rule is that workers' compensation claims are generally not allowed. This is because travel is not considered part of the regular "course of employment."
Simply put, if you get in a car accident on your way to work, the insurance company usually wouldn't count that as a workplace injury. You would need an injury lawyer to help you get medical expenses in a personal injury case instead. However, there are some exceptions to this rule.
This article briefly overviews the going and coming rule in workers' compensation.
The Going and Coming Rule of Workers' Compensation
Employers are responsible for covering an employee's losses from a work-related injury. This includes medical bills and missed time at work. To qualify for workers' compensation, a "work-related" injury does not necessarily have to happen in the office or on the job site. For example, an injury at a work-sponsored party at a bowling alley would be covered. However, driving to work is usually not considered a work-related activity.
According to the going and coming rule, workers' compensation benefits do not apply to injuries sustained while commuting to or from work. However, there are exceptions. Although one could argue that the commute is job-related, the going and coming rule was not intended for that.
However, there are instances in which driving from Point A to Point B is considered work-related. For example, driving to multiple job sites within a shift is not considered going and coming. This is usually covered through workers' compensation. This and other exceptions to the going and coming rule are discussed below.
Exceptions to the Going and Coming Rule
There are some exceptions to the going and coming rule. For instance, the court of appeals might decide that the travel was within the scope of employment. Be aware that this rule has certain exceptions.
These exceptions include the following:
- Commuting in a company car: Driving your own car to work is exempted under the going and coming rule. However, commuting in a company-owned vehicle is often covered in most states. The company car has to be used for commuting to and from a fixed location in some states, while other states allow the car to be used more broadly.
- Traveling as a major job duty: If your regular job duty involves traveling, it goes beyond simply commuting to a work site. This would include pilots, truck drivers, bus drivers, and state troopers. However, this list of examples is incomplete. Other varieties of personnel who engage in travel as a function of their work qualify for this exception. Your injury should be covered as long as the injury occurred during your primary job duties versus driving your car to the station for your shift as a bus driver.
- Traveling between multiple job sites: Using your vehicle to go to different job sites within one shift is considered job-related usage under most state workers' comp laws. This may include a computer technician driving from one office building to another or an employee of a landscaping company driving to different job sites.
- Commercial traveler: According to most laws, all of the time spent away on a business trip is considered employment-related. So even though the traveling employee attends a conference for only eight hours each day, the entire time spent traveling is considered work-related.
- Special errand exception: This exception means that if you are doing something special for your job outside of the job site, like picking up donuts for the office, and you get into an automobile accident, you could be eligible for workers' compensation benefits. In this case, the travel time is considered part of your job duties. If your manager hands you some cash and asks you to stop and get them a coffee before work the following day, they ask you to perform a "special errand." Even if it is unrelated to work, such as walking your boss's dog, employers are generally liable for injuries related to these extra tasks.
- Employer control over property: Another exception could be if your employer controls the place where you got hurt, like the company's parking lot. Let's say you are leaving work and slip on ice in the parking lot. You get hurt as a result. The parking lot can be considered part of the employer's premises in this situation. Injured workers can be eligible for benefits.
Understanding Workers' Compensation Laws and Policies
Workers' compensation laws can be complex. Understanding the specifics of these laws, such as the Workers' Compensation Act and the going and coming rule, can help you know your rights as a worker. But it is only sometimes clear if your injury should be counted as a workplace injury or personal injury. It can help to get legal advice to understand these differences if you get hurt.
Still Confused About the Going and Coming Rule? An Attorney Can Help
It is not always clear whether workers' compensation covers an injury that seems work-related. If any of the above exceptions to the going and coming rule apply to your injury, you may have a claim for benefits.
You might need a workers' compensation lawyer if you are injured in a car accident while going to or coming from work. These lawyers specialize in workers' compensation laws and can help you understand your rights. A workers' compensation attorney can guide you through the process. They can help you understand whether any exceptions apply to your case.
Have an experienced workers' comp attorney help you make the right decisions.
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Contact a qualified workers' compensation attorney to make sure your rights are protected.