Workers' compensation is supposed to be an easy, no-fault safety net that provides essential medical benefits and financial coverage for employees who suffer work-related injuries.
However, not every claim is as straightforward as injured workers may hope. There are some limitations to what workers' comp covers and the line between when an injury is covered and when it's not isn't always 100% clear. One of the areas most prone to litigation is when the "going and coming" rule is invoked by an employer to deny an injured worker their benefits.
What's the "Going and Coming" Rule?
Basically, this rule says that you're still on your own time during your work commute, even though it's necessary for you to get to your job and back. That means that if you're injured in a car wreck or you trip over a curb and break your arm while walking to work, you're not eligible for workers' compensation benefits. Neither your medical needs will be covered, nor will you receive any replacement wages.
However, it's not always that simple. There are plenty of situations that involve exceptions to the general rule. Consider these:
- Your boss sent you on an errand: Were you asked to run through Starbucks and pick up coffee for your boss on your way to work? Even if you were off the clock, that detour is considered work-related because you're fulfilling your employer's request.
- Your boss asked you to handle a special mission: Maybe the night manager accidentally grabbed the wrong keys, so your boss asks you to drive to their house and pick them up before work. If you're in a car accident on the way, your injuries should be covered under workers' comp because you were acting in your employer's interests.
- You were on a business trip when you were injured: Even though the meeting you were in only took two hours, the commute back and forth took six. If you end up injured on your way back, that's still considered an injury on company time.
- You were traveling between job sites: Whether travel is a major part of your job duties or you were just asked to fill in for a sick employee at a different office, traveling between job sites on your shift is still considered "work."
It's not always easy to tell if an injury is covered under workers' compensation benefits, and you cannot rely on your employer's perspective or information. If you believe that an injury you sustained in transit to or from your job site should be covered, it's wisest to talk to a workers' compensation attorney. They can help you assess your situation and assert your rights.
For more information, contact a service provider like David Helfand PA.