The “going and coming rule” is a general doctrine that applies to workers’ comp cases. It helps to define when someone can qualify for workers’ compensation and when they may not. Specifically, this rule relates to car accidents.
Generally speaking, workers are not covered by workers’ comp benefits during their commute. If a worker is simply driving from their house to the office or from their place of employment back to their home, and they get in a car accident and suffer injuries, they can’t seek workers’ comp benefits. This doesn’t mean they don’t have any options, as they may be able to seek compensation from the driver who caused the crash, but it’s a personal injury case and not a workers’ comp case.
Does this always apply?
No, there are some exceptions where this does not apply. If a person’s boss gives them a task that they have to complete during this commute, then they may qualify for workers’ comp benefits.
For example, perhaps an employee normally commutes to work on their own and clocks in when they get there. One day, however, their boss calls them before work and tells them to make a pickup on the way into the office. They need more supplies for a project that is supposed to happen that day.
If the employee goes and makes the pickup and then gets in an accident while driving to work, it may count as a workplace accident. They were performing the duties of their job by making the pickup, not just driving through their standard daily commute.
A situation like this can sometimes get complicated, especially when employers and employees disagree about what counts as a work-related task. Those involved need to know about their legal options.