Employers are responsible for covering an employee’s losses from a work-related injury, including medical bills and missed time at work. In order to qualify for workers’ compensation, a “work-related” injury doesn’t necessarily have to happen in the office or on the job site. An injury sustained during the morning commute would not be covered, based on the “going and coming” rule. Although one could argue that the commute is job-related, the going and coming rule was not intended for that and has been consistently applied. But driving to multiple job sites within a shift, for example, is not considered “going and coming” and usually is covered through workers’ compensation. This and other exceptions to the going and coming rule are discussed below.
As a rule of thumb, the travel in question must be closely related to an employee’s job duties to be covered by workers’ comp. Specifics may vary in your state, but there are a few general exceptions to the going and coming rule:
1. Commuting in a Company Car
Driving your own car to work is exempted by the going and coming rule. But 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 others define this more broadly. For example, it might be argued that a car emblazened with a company’s logo is always being used for work-related activity (essentially, as a moving advertisement).
2. Traveling as Part of Your Major Job Duty
If your normal job duty involves traveling, then it goes well beyond simply commuting to a work site. This would include pilots, truck drivers, bus drivers, state troopers, etc. As long as the injury occurred in the course of your major job duties, as opposed to driving your personal car to the station for your shift as a bus driver, it should be covered.
3. Traveling Between Multiple Job Sites
Using your personal 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 the employee of a landscaping company driving to different job sites.
4. Commercial Traveler
According to most laws, all of the time spent away on a business trip is considered to be within the scope of employment. So even though the travelling employee attends a conference for only eight hours each day, the entire time spent travelling is considered work-related.
5. Special Mission
If your manager hands you some cash and asks you to stop and get her a coffee drink before work the next morning, she is asking you to perform a “special mission.” Even if it’s completely unrelated to work, such as walking your boss’s dog, employers generally are liable for injuries related to these extra tasks.
If you have been injured at work and would like information about possible remedies, please do not hesitate to contact the Northland Injury Law firm for a free consultation at 816-400-4878. An attorney experienced in the field of worker’s compensation law will be ready to advise you of your options and counsel you through this difficult time.