A lot of people consider their commute to-and-from the office or job site to be part of their work activities – but that’s not how workers’ compensation sees things.
Driving to and from your job exposes you to risks that aren’t really under your employer’s control – and it’s still ultimately considered “your” time, not “work” time. Generally speaking, any injuries you suffer during your travels will be excluded from workers’ compensation coverage under something known as the “going and coming” rule – unless an exception applies.
Exceptions happen when the travel is actually part of your job
The question of whether or not your injuries meet an exception basically comes down to whether you were traveling for your employer’s benefit in some way. Some common exceptions to the going and coming rule include:
- Traveling for work: People in a diverse range of careers – from delivery drivers to computer technicians – travel all the time. It’s just part of the job. If they’re injured along the way, they will often still be entitled to workers’ comp.
- Clocking in or Clocking Out: If you are not yet on the clock but are on your employer’s premises, your injuries would be covered. The same is true if you clocked out and were injured on company property, on your way back to your vehicle, for example.
- Business trips: If you’re on an extended business trip, you’re still considered to be “at work” even when you’re on the plane, in a cab or in your hotel.
- Running errands for the boss: Your boss may occasionally ask you to run errands (some work-related, some not). If you’re injured while picking up the office lunch order or your manager’s dry cleaning, you’re still eligible for benefits. However, if you divert from that task to do something personal and are injured, that would likely not be covered.
- Moving between job sites: Some jobs don’t have a single worksite – they have many. If you’re a phlebotomist who visits different nursing homes as part of your job, for example, then your driving time between job sites is considered “work time.”
It’s not always easy to ascertain whether or not an injury incurred on your travels between one place and the next is actually covered under workers’ compensation – and you’d be wise not to trust your employer’s word on the issue. If you’re unsure of your rights, experienced legal guidance is available.