‘Coming and Going’ Rule
From The Insurance Professional’s Practical Guide to Workers’ Compensation, by Chris Boggs
Injuries suffered traveling to work or home from work or even while going to and returning from lunch are generally not compensable. Known as the “coming and going rule,” the logic behind the rule is that the employee is not furthering the employer’s interest or serving the business’ needs. The employee is serving his own purposes and furthering his own cause during this course of travel; namely, going to an employment situation where a paycheck is delivered for services rendered, going to lunch or going home.
The employer is not the proximate cause of the individual being on the road; the employee has not arrived at a place where services are rendered to the employer and injury suffered is not compensable.
Exceptions to the coming and going rule do exist. Anytime travel is an integral part of employment or such travel furthers the employer’s business, the coming and going rule is superseded, making injury compensable. Travel considered integral to the employment includes travel between jobsites and travel to meet clients.
Other “special hazard” exceptions to the coming and going rule include:
Employer-furnished transportation. If the employer undertakes to provide group transportation to and from the office or job site, injury suffered during the trip is compensable. An off-beat example, especially in areas where there is little snow, is the small business owner who picks up his/her employees on snowy days to assure the office is staffed and, altruistically, to keep the employees from having to drive. Employee injury during this travel is potentially compensable under Workers’ Compensation;
The employee performs a beneficial errand for the employer. Going to the bank, the post office or on any other errand to further the business of the employer qualifies as a beneficial errand. If the errand requires the employee to deviate from her normal route, any injury suffered from the time the employee leaves the premises until she returns to her normal route is likely compensable. Errands taking the employee outside his normal ways and means are considered “for the benefit” of the employer, making injury compensable;
Injury suffered by an “on call” employee. Doctors or those in other employments who must be ready to respond when the “call” comes are considered to be within the course and scope of employment immediately upon responding to the call. The drive is considered to be part of furthering the employer’s business making injury compensable;
If the employer reimburses or pays the employees transportation costs, the trip is considered business-related and for the benefit of the employer. Injury suffered is compensable unless abandonment of employment is proven;
Injury suffered once the employee enters the parking lot. Courts ascribe a reasonable time for the employees to reach their assigned workstation. During this time, the employee is considered to be in the course and scope of employment. “The clock” begins to tick (so to speak) when the employee arrives in the parking lot. The reverse is true; the employee is considered to be within course and scope until he leaves the parking lot. Injury suffered prior to and after leaving the parking lot is not covered (unless one of the other exceptions apply). The breadth of this special exception is applied differently by each state.
Note: When applying the ‘coming and going’ rule, it is also important to understand the jurisdiction’s Workers’ Compensation law and relating case law, as this can vary by state.