A lot of people mentally calculate their commute time back and forth from their job as part of their work day — but it isn’t.
The “coming and going” rule says that employees are only covered under workers’ compensation once they get to their employer’s premises. That coverage ends when they leave again.
That sounds pretty straightforward, right? Unfortunately, there are a lot of exceptions. Here are some things that have to be considered:
Was the commute part of the employee’s job?
If an employee regularly travels for work and that travel is actually part of their job, accidents and injuries they incur during their travels will probably be covered under workers’ compensation.
For example, home health aides who have to travel from client to client and construction inspectors who have to move job site to job site as part of their duties would likely be covered during their commutes.
So, too, might be the employee who was asked to travel to an out-of-town conference overnight — even if they weren’t being paid for all of their time.
Was the employee running a special errand?
An employee can also be covered under workers’ comp when they’re not on the clock if they’re running an errand on an employer’s behalf.
For example, maybe you asked a trusted employee to drop your keys back off at the office on their way home since they pass the main office. If they’re injured on that short detour, that could still fall under workers’ comp because they were acting for your benefit.
Was an employee really on his own time?
Sometimes, however, an employee will try to unfairly claim that an injury meets an exception to the coming and going rule in hopes that they’ll obtain coverage.
For example, if an employee decides to run some errands after work in the company car and gets hit by a careless driver, they may claim that they were still on their commute — when, in reality, they were picking up groceries or grabbing takeout after their job was over.
When you have a difficult workers’ compensation dispute with an employee, don’t try to handle it on your own. An attorney can help you defend your interests and make sure that you’re in compliance with the law.