In most cases, your typical commute to and from work is not covered under workers’ compensation. That means if you are in an auto accident while going to and coming home from your job, you likely won’t be able to file a workers’ compensation claim and get benefits to pay for medical costs, lost income, and more.
However, there are many exceptions to this general rule. If driving is a standard part of your job, you’re asked to run an errand for your employer, or you have a company vehicle, you may be able to file a workers’ compensation claim if you’re injured in an accident while traveling.
If you’ve suffered a car accident while commuting to or from work, a workers’ comp lawyer can explain what California’s rules are for work commutes and workers’ compensation benefits. That way you know whether your injury qualifies for workers’ compensation and how you can avoid unnecessary claim denials.
What Is the “Going and Coming” Rule?
California’s workers’ compensation rules state that your injury must arise out of your job and occur during your job. “Arising out of your job” refers to doing something for the benefit of your employer at their request, and “occurring during your job” means you are performing a work-related task.
Most states, including California, have a “going and coming” rule that limits workers’ compensation claims for commuters. This rule establishes when you are and are not able to claim workers’ compensation when injured in a commuting accident.
In general, the going and coming rule states that you take the same risk as all other travelers on the road when you travel between destinations (including your home and place of work) and you are not driving for the benefit of your employer. This rule also applies to any travel to do personal errands during your regular work shift, such as on break or lunch.
Exceptions to the Going and Coming Rule
Employers and their workers’ compensation insurance companies may try to apply the going and coming rule to many commuter situations. But some exceptions may qualify your commuter accident injury for workers’ compensation, including:
Travel as a Necessary Part of Your Job
If traveling is in your job description or a main factor in your role, then parts of your commute may be covered by workers’ compensation. These roles may include:
- Salespeople who travel to and from pitches and meetings
- Home health care workers who travel to and from patients’ homes
- Construction workers who travel between worksites
- Truck drivers operating business vehicles
- Delivery drivers in approved personal vehicles or business vehicles while performing work tasks (you must be an employee, not a contractor)
If you take employer-provided transportation, such as an arranged vehicle, or drive a company vehicle while you work, your commute accident is likely covered under workers’ compensation.
Some employers compensate employees for their commute to and from work. If your employer pays you for mileage or your time while you commute, a commute accident injury may also be covered.
Depending on the nature of your work as an on-call employee, you may be on the clock and acting for the benefit of your employer from the second you accept the call until you complete your on-call work. If you were injured in a commuting accident while on-call, you may be able to file a workers’ compensation claim.
When you travel outside your normal route to a mandatory work event (like a meeting, work outing, team building activity, or conference), your commute should be covered by workers’ compensation. This includes out-of-town, out-of-state, and international travel.
Work Errands in a Personal Vehicle
If you are asked or expected to run work-related errands during your work shift, this is likely covered by workers’ compensation, including during your break or lunch. If you do this outside your work shift, such as before or after your shift, it may still be covered but could vary on a case-by-case basis.
In addition to formal work errands, you may also be able to file a workers’ compensation claim for informal errands, like getting food or coffee for coworkers. However, these may also be covered on a case-by-case basis.
Parking Lot and Premises Accidents
Another exception to the going and coming rule is when you’re injured in the parking lot owned or managed by your employer or a parking lot or structure near your workplace.
How to Determine Whether Your Commute Accident Is Covered by Workers’ Compensation
If you think your commute accident could be a valid workers’ compensation claim, you can reach out to your employer to start the claims process. They may refuse your claim if the coming and going rule applies. A workers’ compensation lawyer Los Angeles can help review the circumstances around your commute, whether you were acting for the benefit of your employer, and whether your case falls under one of the many exceptions to the going and coming rule.
It’s important to choose a lawyer as soon as you can after a work commute accident. Workers’ compensation claims are already complex, and creating a strong claim that refutes the coming and going rule can be even more complicated. A workers’ compensation lawyer can handle the entire process, from filing claims to communicating with your employer and their insurance provider to appealing denials and protecting your right to recover compensation.
Call KJT Law Group for Your Workers’ Compensation Claim
At KJT Law Group, our team of workers’ compensation lawyers can help you determine whether you have a valid claim for your California law work commute accident. Call our office at (818) 507-8525 or contact us online today to schedule your free consultation and get started on your claim.