Workers’ Compensation is designed to protect workers against the costs of suffering debilitating injuries while doing their jobs. If a worker is injured, obtains medical care, and misses a significant amount of work, Workers’ Compensation pays the bills.
In exchange for accepting Workers’ Compensation benefits, a worker cannot sue the employer for damages arising from the injury. The issue of just when a worker is eligible for Workers’ Compensation protection matters greatly. The going and coming rule at least partly addresses that issue.
Explaining the Going and Coming Rule
Although workers must go to and from the workplace, the going and coming rule exempts that activity from Workers’ Compensation. There are too many ways in which a worker might become injured while journeying from home to work and back again.
A car accident could hospitalize the worker. A slip and fall on an icy or wet sidewalk could cause a worker to suffer an injury. Countless potential perils could strike, but they are not the fault the employer.
Delaware’s Workers’ Compensation law exempts travel to and from the workplace from qualifying for coverage. That partly is due to workers commonly making one or more stops while going to or coming from work. It largely is due to auto insurance and premises liability protecting workers while they are driving and making stops.
A worker might drop off kids at school while on the way to work or stop at stores, gas stations, and other places on the way home. Those are personal errands and not work requirements, so the coming and going rule addresses that by denying Workers’ Compensation coverage while traveling to or from work.
Many Exceptions to the Rule
The going and coming rule is not absolute. Many exceptions would extend Workers’ Compensation protection to workers who are injured while operating their own vehicles. Those exceptions include:
- Commercial travel
- Driving a company vehicle
- Running a special errand for work
- Traveling as a major part of job duties
- Traveling between job sites
When an employee is issued a company vehicle for regular use, any injuries suffered while driving could qualify for Workers’ Compensation. A company vehicle usually requires the driver to use it in a specific work-related manner and not for personal errands or pleasure trips.
Any injuries suffered while driving from one work site to another also count as a work-related injury, since that travel is a necessary part of your job and occurs while you are on the clock rather than commuting to and from work.
Some jobs require regular travel. A salesperson traveling from one location to one or more other locations is just one example. Regular travel while on the job is necessary to complete the assigned workload, so injuries suffered while traveling would be covered.
If you are at work and are tasked with a special assignment that requires you to drive somewhere, any injuries that you might suffer would be subject to Workers’ Compensation.
The errand could be as simple as picking up some lunch that your boss ordered. Or it might be to a local office supply store to get some paper for the printer. No matter the mission, Workers’ Compensation would apply.
Anyone engaged in commercial travel in a personal or company vehicle also would be subject to Workers’ Compensation coverage.
Premises Liability Might Negate Going and Coming Rule
If you drive to work, you may have a designated parking area or a specific parking spot that you must use at your place of employment. Once you arrive at the parking location, you are doing part of your regular work routine.
If another vehicle runs into you and causes an injury before you are able to enter the building, that could be a Workers’ Compensation claim. So could a slip-and-fall or another injury accident that occurs while you are in the designated work parking area.
The full liability might not be with your employer and Workers’ Compensation by extension. A privately owned parking lot or municipal parking ramp could be liable for your injuries and other damages, but depending on the circumstances, your employer also might be accountable, especially if your employer assigned the parking location for you to use. An employer-designated parking area would be part of your regular pre-work routine and a necessary part of doing your job.
What to Do if You Are Injured During Work Travel?
If you are traveling as part of your work assignment, you should be eligible for Workers’ Compensation coverage, even if you are not the one doing the driving.
Any injuries that you suffer while traveling for work should be treated right away by a doctor. You can use your own doctor or see a company doctor and still qualify for Workers’ Compensation benefits.
You need to notify your immediate supervisor or another employer representative regarding the injury. You also would have to describe the circumstances that caused the injury. Witnesses, video evidence, or other supporting proof of the accident could help to streamline the claims process.
Your medical costs should be covered by your employer via Workers’ Compensation. If you miss more than three days of work, you should be eligible for lost wages coverage. That would be equal to about two-thirds of your average hourly wage or weekly salary amount.
How to Appeal a Workers’ Compensation Claim Denial?
If your Workers’ Compensation claim is denied, you need to request an internal review by your employer. If that does not correct the situation, then you can file an appeal to the Delaware Office of Workers’ Compensation.
The state will conduct a review of the events leading up to the injury accident and render a decision. Their decision either will uphold the denial of your claim or overturn the denial so that you are covered.
If your claim remains denied, you could file a lawsuit seeking damages from your employer and other liable parties. An experienced Wilmington Workers’ Compensation attorney could help you to present the strongest possible case.
Wilmington Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Help to Uphold Workers’ Rights
If you are injured while traveling for work, the experienced Wilmington Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow can help you to fight a denial of a valid Workers’ Compensation claim. You can call (302) 427-9500 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation at our law office in Wilmington, Delaware. With offices in all three counties of Delaware, we serve clients throughout the state.