workers-compensation-employee-rights

Is Your Commute to Work Covered by Workers’ Compensation?

Does Injury while commuting to work qualify under Workers Compensation Benefits?

It’s almost impossible to predict what’s going to happen in the next moment in our lives. Something’s that occur in our lives are beyond our control. And like Maya Angelou’s saying “Hoping for the best, prepared for the worst, and unsurprised by anything in between,” is probably the best way to live life.

 

As a significant part of our adult life is spent at work or traveling to and from work, any serious injury could mean a setback. And this could affect every sphere of our lives.  If you’ve come across someone or know someone who was injured at work, you’re probably well aware of your rights if.

 

The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Law protects employees and ensures they receive treatment and are compensated for lost wages due to work related injuries or at work premises.

 

But have you ever wondered what your rights are, if you were injured while going to work?

 

This kind of a situation is covered under the ‘Going and Coming’ rule. The law states that if you are injured while commuting to work, you will not be eligible for an injury related compensation claim, as this is not in the course and scope of employment.

 

However, every rule has exceptions. In the case of the “going and coming rule” the exceptions could be as follows:

  • The employment contract specifically mentions compensation for injury while traveling to and from work.

 

  • If the employee was driving a company owned vehicle.

 

  • The employee’s major duties revolve around travel for the position he was hired for.

 

  • The employee was traveling on a sanctioned work related journey to further the business of the employer.

 

  • If the employee was running errands for the employer and there was an injury, the employee is eligible for compensation.

 

There has to be a real and significant connection between the employer and the situation from which the injury arose.

 

There’s also the something known as the serious injury threshold that could apply in such a case.  As per Pennsylvania state law, your case will fall under the no-fault category unless it meets a “serious injury” threshold. Serious injuries are those that have caused momentous and compelling damage resulting in limiting your ability to perform day-to-day activities, either temporarily or permanently. It could range from anything from a fracture to death.

 

Exceptions to the going and coming rule:

  • Two cases need to be mentioned here, the first one being the Simko Vs WCAB( Workers Compensation Appeals Board). In this case, a worker while traveling to a safety meeting suffered a brain injury.  Was this an exception to the going and coming rule? Well, the workers’ compensation judge (WCJ) ruled that this was a “special mission” and awarded the compensation. The WCAB then challenged this decision in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, which overruled the decision.  The court concluded that it wasn’t a special mission and it was a part of the job to attend safety meetings, for which the employee was paid.

 

  • In another case of Lutheran Senior Services Management Company vs. WCAB (Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board) the Director of maintenance for a nursing home was severely injured on the way to work.  What made this case different was the fact that the Director had to come in on occasion on off days for emergencies. And for those days he was provided “comp time” by the employer, and “comp time” was calculated from the time he got paged till the time he got home.

 

The workers’ compensation insurance rejected his claim stating he was injured on the way to work. When the case went to WCJ, the compensation was granted with the note that “Claimant was sick on March 13, 2014, and except for the special need of the Employer to assure [that the] surveillance cameras became operative . . . Claimant would not have gone to work.”  And this was an exception to the “going and coming rule.”

 

You can see from these cases that unless it’s an exception to the “going and coming rule,” getting injured on your commute to work isn’t covered under workers compensation.

 

Brett Tessler & Associates will provide you with a free consultation service to help you determine if you have a workers’ compensation case. If you have eligibility questions or if your employer is disputing your claim, contact our team of qualified attorneys at (215) 569-9005 for more information.