What is the workers’ comp “going and coming” rule?
If you sustain an injury while engaging in work-related activities, the general rule of thumb is that your employer’s worker’s compensation insurance must cover the cost of medical bills, lost wages, rehabilitation and select other damages. Per the law, work-related activities do not necessarily have to take place in the office. For example, a work-related injury can occur at an employer-sponsored event at a public location.
That said, the law does list exemptions for certain out-of-office injuries. One such exemption is the “going and coming rule.”
The going and coming rule
According to FindLaw, per the going and coming rule, you generally cannot recover worker’s compensation benefits if you sustain injuries during your commute to or from work. Though you can argue, as many people have, that commuting is a job-related activity, the law considers it a separate activity. However, determinations for prior cases have established exemptions to this exemption.
Exemptions to the going and coming rule
In the past, the courts have ruled that travel between Point A and Point B is, in certain cases, a work-related activity. For instance, the going and coming rule may not apply if your job requires you to travel to multiple job sites during a single shift. Other instances in which the rule may not apply are as follows:
- Travel is a significant part of your job responsibilities. If your job duties involve travel that goes well beyond a simple commute, the typical rule may not apply. However, for injuries to be compensable, you must sustain them during your typical course of work, such as when operating a boat or flying a plane, rather than while driving your personal vehicle to the dock or airport.
- You commute in a company vehicle. In most states, workers’ compensation covers injuries that stem from most accidents that occur in company vehicles.
- You travel between multiple job sites within any given shift. Most state laws consider the usage of a personal vehicle to travel between job sites as a “work-related activity.”
- You travel out of town for business. Per most state laws, any time you spend away on a business trip is time “on the clock.”
- Your boss asks you to run errands. If your boss asks you to drop off her dry cleaning on the way home from work and you get into an accident during the trip, the law may hold your employer liable for your injuries.
In most cases, worker’s comp rules come with exemptions. These exemptions may work in your favor, so it is important that you are familiar with them and understand when they may apply.