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Injuries while commuting usually not eligible for workers' comp

We recently wrote a post about whether remote employees qualify for workers' compensation benefits, since they would most likely be injured in their own homes. Like many workers' compensation issues, the answer isn't always clear and is the subject of some debate.

In today's post, we'll discuss a similar issue that seems to have more precedent and is likely to impact more workers. It concerns compensation for injuries while traveling to and from work or traveling for work.

What if you are in a car accident while commuting?

If you work outside the home, you will surely be commuting to and from work. While this is necessary for your job, it is not typically considered job-related for purposes of workers’ compensation benefits. There is a widely accepted doctrine known as the going and coming rule, which exempts employers from liability for worker injuries suffered while commuting. There are some exceptions, of course, including if you are injured while commuting in a company-provided vehicle (aka a company car).

What if driving is a major part of your job?

This is very different from commuting, since your injuries would be occurring on-the-job and in the course of employment. Obviously, truck drivers, bus drivers and similar occupations would be eligible for benefits. Other covered professions would include airline pilots and law enforcement officers who patrol, just two name two. That being said, these workers would still likely not be covered while commuting to or from work under the going and coming rule.

What If Travel Is Included In Your Job But Not The Key Focus?

There are three other common scenarios involving car accidents that would be excluded from the going and coming rule. They include:

  • A worker on a business trip (eligible for injuries suffered at any point during the trip)
  • A worker traveling to multiple job sites during a shift
  • A worker running an errand or completing a task at the direction of their boss (even picking up dry cleaning or grabbing coffee)

How An Attorney Can Help

Work-related travel is a somewhat gray area, which means your workers’ compensation claim could be contested or denied. To present the most convincing argument for why you deserve benefits (and to help you appeal any denied claims), you may want to seek the assistance of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.

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