There are many times when an employee who is covered by workers’ comp insurance can seek workers’ compensation benefits if they are hurt while they are driving for work-related reasons. For example, say that your boss sent you to run an errand. If you get in a car accident while you’re on the clock (or while simply engaging in work-related duties if you’re not an hourly employee), you can still seek workers’ compensation, even though you weren’t at the office when that injury occurred.
Many employees have understandably wondered whether they can use this rule to seek similar compensation for an accident that occurs during their commute. After all, they wouldn’t have been involved in that commute if they weren’t employed. If another driver hits them on the way into work, can they get workers’ compensation benefits that will cover medical bills and lost wages?
The coming-and-going rule
Generally speaking, you cannot get workers’ comp for injuries that occur during a commute unless you are exercising your job duties – like running an errand as directed by your boss – on your way in or out. This is due to the “coming and going rule.” It stipulates that workers are not yet covered if they are coming to work or going home at the end of the day. This may be a necessary drive, but workers are not yet on the clock (literally or figuratively) and being paid for their time. Therefore, a commute is not generally a work-related activity for the purpose of workers’ comp.
That being said, this issue can get complicated. Say that your boss asks you to pick up some supplies on your way into work. If you do, does this mean that your commute is still just your own personal drive to work, or are you now doing work-related duties that mean you deserve compensation? In some cases, something like this will count as a “special mission.” It is work-related. Even though you are on your commute, having to do this mission while coming to the office could open up the possibility of qualifying for workers’ comp benefits in the event of a crash.
What comes next?
When and where did the accident take place? Were you injured? Who is responsible for those costs? To address questions like these and many more, it’s important to understand all of your legal options by speaking with a legal professional. The costs can be significant, and you need to know about all of the tactics you can use to receive any and all compensation that you may be rightfully owed.