Compensability And The “Going and Coming Rule”
Generally speaking, an employee who is injured while traveling to or from work is not covered by work comp. For instance, if somebody leaves the office, gets in their car, is a couple of miles from work when injured in an auto accident, it is not a compensable injury. That is because the employee had finished work for the day and was free to go where he or she wanted. There are many exceptions to the Going and Coming Rule. I suggest that anybody that has an injury going to work or leaving work should talk to an attorney about the accident because it’s fact-specific. There are circumstances that are subject to exceptions. Those circumstances can include travel during work hours. For example, if I leave my office and as I’m driving to court and I’m involved in a car accident, that would be a compensable injury because even though I left the office, I’m still performing my regular job duties.
If a worker park in the employer’s parking lot, falls on the ice and is injured while walking toward the building, that’s a compensable injury. If an employee is required to park in a specific remote location away from the office and is injured on the way to work between the car and the office, that’s also a compensable injury.
A traveling salesperson is in the course of the scope of their employment while traveling, and since they’re providing the service to the employer at the time that they’re injured, that’s considered compensable. The injuries of a salesperson are very fact-specific because if the traveling salesperson is done working for the day, goes to dinner and has a couple of drinks, and sustains an injury while walking back to the hotel room, depending on specific facts of that case, that injury may or may not be covered.
Other exceptions to the going and coming rule include the circumstance where an employee is transporting the employer’s other workers, or if an employee is doing something that the employer requested him to do. For example, if the employer asks a specific employee to drive other crew members to the job site so that the full crew will be on hand and those workers are injured in an accident, then those injuries are generally considered compensable because the method of travel benefits the employer.
If travel is at either expressed or an implied request of the employer, or if it confers a benefit on the employer, then those situations are considered compensable. The employee who’s away from home on a business trip is usually under continuous coverage in the event of an injury. But, if there is a clearly identifiable deviation for a personal event, that particular incident may not be covered. Going back to the example of the worker who is at the hotel, if he goes down to the bar and gets drunk and subsequently injured on the way back to the hotel room, that injury may not be covered. It is fact-specific. If a person is traveling and has a little time off, and goes out fishing or skiing, that would be considered a deviation from employment for personal reasons. There are a variety of exceptions to the Going and Coming Rule, and they’re so fact-specific that the best thing to do is to consult a work comp attorney if you are injured when going to or coming from work.
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