The ‘Going and Coming’ Rule

Is employee travel compensable under the Workers’ Compensation Statute? For employees who have a fixed place of employment, injuries that may occur in their normal driving to and from work are generally held not to be compensable because such travel is not considered an activity that arises from employment. This is often referred to as the “going and coming rule.”

For an injury to be compensable, it must occur or be associated with the normal course of employment. This refers to the time, place and circumstances of the injury, but is not entirely black and white. When determining whether a claim is compensable, a claims adjuster will investigate the following:

  • Did the injury occur during work hours?
  • Did the injury occur on the employer’s premises?
  • Did the injury occur as a result of a task required for the job?
  • Did the injury occur during a work-related activity?

Some common exceptions to the rule might include:

On-call employees: Often injuries are deemed compensable from receipt of a dispatched call. However, this in and of itself may not be sufficient to establish a work-related injury.

Employer-provided/reimbursed transportation: Injury occurring while enroute to a job site (e.g. seasonal migratory work).

On-premises accident (before or after work): Injuries that occur in company parking lots are often found compensable even when they happen outside normal work hours.

It is also important to determine if the travel is regarded as an extension of the workplace. For example, did the employer request an employee to make a bank run? Did the employer schedule an off-site meeting directing the employee to attend? An injury that occurs during an assigned task would likely be judged compensable because the employee was acting at the direction of the employer. Similarly, an injury would be deemed compensable for a salesperson who for instance, regularly travels as part of their job responsibility, if driving is expected in their daily stated tasks.

The inclusion of business travel is likewise normally accepted as compensable 24/7 due to the potential risks involved as a result of traveling in itself. However, when deviation from assigned travel takes place, an injury is less likely to be considered compensable. The employee who deviates from normal work travel (e.g., the bank run) to complete their grocery shopping and gets into an car accident in the store parking lot will not receive Workers’ Compensation benefits because that part of the travel is considered a personal errand not something beneficial to the appointed job duty. When this same employee leaves the grocery store to return to work, they are now back on the clock and working in the capacity of their employer-assigned travel. If the auto accident took place in this situation, it would appear to be compensable.

The “going and coming” rule can be confusing. Communicate, train and enforce driving and business travel procedures for your district to mitigate potential compensability issues.

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