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The 'going and coming' rule may disqualify a worker's claim

As a small business owner, you may have a closer relationship with your employees than someone who runs a large corporation. This is because your employees are a critical part of the success of your business, which is ultimately your personal success. If one of your employees becomes ill or injured, you may feel almost as much concern as you would for your own family. If that injury takes place on the job, you have many more concerns to deal with.

Understanding how your workers' compensation insurance works is vital to keeping your employees safe and healthy as well as keeping your business financially sound. New York's workers' compensation laws require coverage for a generous number of injuries and conditions related to work activities. However, are you responsible if your employee has an accident on the way to or from work?

Beware of these exceptions

To your employee, the commute may seem like part of the job. However, it typically falls under the exception called the "going and coming rule." This rule excludes any injuries your workers may suffer on their way to or from work. This can include injuries from a traffic accident, but it may also exclude claims for back injuries or other conditions related to driving.

Of course, there are always exceptions to rules. If your employee is injured in an accident and any of the following or other exceptions to the going and coming rule apply, your employee may qualify for benefits:

  • Your employee is driving from one jobsite to the next within a shift.
  • You require your employee to drive a company car, especially one that carries your business logo.
  • Your business involves the traveling of your workers, such as home health care, deliveries or in-home repair services.
  • You pay your workers for their commutes or otherwise have some control over that time.
  • You have sent your employee on a special errand, which may or may not be related to work duties.
  • Your employee is on a business trip, during which he or she may be eligible for workers' comp benefits if an injury occurs even outside normal working hours.

If an employee submits a claim for injuries during a commute that does not relate to any of these exceptions, you would be wise to consult with an attorney about your options. Workers' compensation is complex and costly, and you may benefit from having a skilled legal advocate in your corner.

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