Workers’ compensation benefits are intended to cover accidents that take place on the job site, and generally don’t apply to those that occur on the way to or from work. But this restriction, known as the “coming and going” rule in an accident, is not an absolute. There are exceptions to the rule which could affect your case if you’ve been hurt.
Understanding the coming and going rule, and when it does not bar the recovery of workers’ compensation benefits, is essential to ensuring your rights are protected after a work-related accident. Turn to the trusted legal counsel of Nikolaus & Hohenadel.
The Coming And Going Rule Explained in an Accident
To be eligible for workers’ compensation, an injured worker must generally have suffered an accident either on the job site or within the course or scope of employment. This means that accidents that occur on the way to or from work are not covered. These are considered to have happened outside the workplace and not in the course or scope of their employment. Although driving to and from work is part of the workday, you’re not performing any job duties during these times. The same principle would apply if you left work during your lunch break and were hurt somewhere offsite.
An incident that causes injury to a worker and falls under the limitations of the coming and going rule will usually not be covered by workers’ compensation. However, there are important exceptions to this rule that every Pennsylvania worker needs to know.
Exceptions To The Coming And Going Rule in an Accident
Injured workers may qualify for workers’ compensation, despite being hurt on their way to or from work, in the following circumstances:
The “traveling employee.” This applies when the injured employee has no fixed place of work. Employees who fall under this exception are doing work – or acting within the course and scope of their employment – even though they have no defined workplace. The nature of the employment, and the driving or traveling aspect that goes along with it, will be instrumental in determining whether this exception applies.
The employment contract includes transportation. This exception usually applies where an employee is given a company vehicle as part of their employment. If the contract permits the employee to use the company vehicle to get to and from work, then an accident that occurs during this time will generally be eligible for workers’ compensation. Importantly, at the time of the accident, the injured worker must not have been using the vehicle for an improper purpose under the employment contract.
Special assignment. If the employee is on a special assignment or project, at the employer’s direction, then an accident either to or from work could be covered. As an example, if you’re driving to work and receive a call from your boss asking you to pick up breakfast for the office, and you then get into an accident, workers’ compensation coverage may apply.
In furtherance of the employer’s business. If you were furthering the business of your employer during your commute, you may qualify for this exception. This exception covers accidents that happen on or off the business premises. It is broadly construed, so seemingly inconsequential actions may be considered to further the business interests of the employer.
What To Do If You Were Hurt Driving To Or From Work
As you can probably guess, the question of whether an employee falls within the coming and going rule, or if one of the exceptions applies, is very fact-specific. The exact facts of one case will vary drastically from another, and the details could affect the outcome. That means gathering as much information about not just the accident, but the events leading up to it will be critical.
The first thing to do is to get the medical treatment you need for your injuries. Be sure you notify your treating physician of anything and everything work-related that pertains to your case. So, for instance, if you were commuting during a special employer assignment, let your doctor know as much about this as you can remember.
It’s imperative that you follow all requirements of Pennsylvania’s workers’ compensation laws. For example, you may be required to receive treatment from an employer-provided list of doctors. You also need to follow all of the normal procedural steps related to workers’ compensation claims, such as informing your employer in writing.
The key in your case will be proving that one of the exceptions to the going and coming rule applies. You will want to document as much as you can to establish the connection between your accident and your employer. For example, if you are contractually permitted to use your vehicle for driving to and from work, get a copy of your employment contract. If the traveling employee exception applies, start documenting your work assignments leading up to the accident. Trace your steps back to before the accident and start gathering evidence showing where you were, and why.
You may have been injured during a special assignment requested by your employer. This could be more difficult to prove. As an example, your employer may have called you and verbally asked you to do something that led to your accident. Preserve whatever evidence you can regarding the assignment, such as text messages, emails, or phone call records.
Finally, retain the legal services of an experienced and dedicated Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney. That’s where we come in.
Contact Our Lancaster Workers’ Compensation Attorney For A Coming And Going Accident
Whether your accident is covered by workers’ compensation will mean the difference between who pays for your recovery: you or your employer. Workers’ compensation is not a given, and employers and their insurance carriers are known to fight even the most legitimate claims. This is especially true for accidents taking place on the way to or from work. Don’t go it alone and risk being denied the benefits you deserve. Call Nikolaus & Hohenadel today.