Collecting Workers Comp for Car & Travel Injuries –
Workers Comp Lawyers Explain “Going & Coming Rule” (Part 1):
Our experienced Long Beach Workers Comp lawyers are often contacted by employees who have been injured while driving a company car, while traveling for work and/or while driving to and from work. They wonder whether Workers Comp covers this type of injury.
Unfortunately, the answer is not a simple one. There are many situations in which your workers Comp insurer will be responsible for your car or travel injuries. However, a number of factors must be looked at to determine if California Workers Comp will cover an injury incurred while travelling. As a starting point – remember that Workers Comp is a type of insurance that provides benefits for employees who are injured “while providing service” to their employer. Therefore, much of this discussion will turn on determining what is considered “providing service.”
In California there is a “going and coming rule” that states that when an employee is engaged in their commute, the employee is not rendering any service to the employer. So, as a general rule injuries incurred during a commute are not considered compensable under Workers Comp law.
This also means that an employer is generally not responsible for any injuries or damage to third parties caused driver who negligently cause a traffic accident during a normal commute from home to the workplace (or visa versa).
Exceptions to the Workers Comp “Going and Coming Rule”:
There are, however, some exceptions to the “going and coming rule” under California Workers Comp law.
(1.) Special Errand or Special Mission Exception –
One of the exceptions to the “going and coming” rule is the “special errand” exception – also called the “special mission” or “business mission” exception.
Under this exception, if the employee, while commuting, is on an errand for the employer, then the employee’s conduct is considered within the scope of his or her employment – and they are eligible for Workers Comp, if in an accident or injured in the course of the commute.
Let’s consider a common example: Every Friday Maria takes the cash collected at the dry cleaners where she works, and stops at the bank to deposit it on the way home from work. If she is in an accident while taking the deposit to the bank, she is likely going to be considered on a “special errand” or “business mission” and will probably qualify for Workers Compensation under California law.
However, what if Maria has already made the deposit and is on her way home from the bank when she is injured? Now the law is less clear cut. California law states that the “special errand” lasts from the time the employee starts on the errand until he or she returns from the errand or until he or she completely abandons the errand for personal reasons.
Under the above example, if Maria had to go out of her way – or in the opposite direction of home – to get to the bank, when would the “special errand” (and workers comp eligibility) end? When she left the bank? Or when she was back on her regular commute route home?
(2.) Employee Commute Benefits the Employer Exception –
When an employer “incidentally benefits” from an employee’s commute, that commute may also be considered part of the employee’s workday or “service” to the employer – qualifying them to collect Workers Comp. This exception can be very subjective and hard to prove.
For example, say John’s employer was a construction company with a vested interest in a city’s zoning laws. One night John decides to attend a Zoning Board meeting on his way home from work, just to keep tabs on what is going on with the laws that will affect his employer. He hasn’t been “asked” to go – and he’s not being paid to go. If he’s in an accident on the commute is he eligible for Workers Comp?
Workers Comp Going & Coming Rule: CLICK HERE FOR PART 2
If you have been injured in a work related car or truck accident CLICK HERE for a Free Consultation. Our experienced Long Beach workers comp lawyers will help you understand your situation & get the maximum compensation for which you qualify.