How may the “going and coming” rule affect workers’ compensation claims?
Georgia workers’ compensation is a form of insurance that pays for the medical expenses and covers lost wages of employees who suffer work-related injuries, diseases and illnesses. However, not all injuries occur at the workplace.
A worker may sustain an injury while at a company party away from the company premises. They may also be injured while driving from one job site to another during working hours. An employee who flies for business meetings may also be involved in a plane crash while away on business.
In such cases, a special legal precedent often gets raised called the “going and coming” rule.
What is the “going and coming” rule?
The “going and coming” rule applies to employees commuting to and from work. Driving to and from work exposes an employee to different risks on public roads and walkways. This rule exempts employers from responsibility when an employee is injured during their commute to and from work.
Even if the injuries mean you will not return to work the following day, and you have medical bills to pay, your employer is not responsible; you will not receive workers’ compensation.
However, there are exemptions to this rule.
Going and coming rule exceptions
1. Commuting in a company-owned vehicle
An employee commuting to and from work in their own car is exempt from workers’ compensation benefits. However, if you commute in a company car, you could benefit from workers’ comp.
It can be argued that a company car with company logos is a moving advertisement and the employee is working as they commute to work. However, the car should be used to commute to and from specific locations so that the employee doesn’t use it to run personal errands.
2. Traveling for work
People who travel for work—such as pizza delivery guys, drivers, pilots, firefighters, state troopers, etc.—are eligible for workers’ comp benefits. These groups will benefit as long as the injury occurred during the course of duty and not when driving their own car to the workplace. Railroad employees injured on the job should apply for aid through the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA).
The going and coming rule doesn’t apply to employees working remotely. However, if the employer requests the employee to travel, the employer will be liable for any injuries that may occur during the commute.
3. Running errands for your employer
If your employer asks you to run some errands outside the workplace, you should be eligible for workers’ comp in case of an injury. These errands may or may not be related to your work. For instance, if your manager asks you to stop and grab them coffee or they ask you to walk their dog, then they are liable for injuries that may occur when you are running their personal errands.
4. Traveling commercially
If you travel for business, you are considered to be working every day you spend away from home. All of your commute to and from the hotel during the business trip, and to and from the business trip location, are considered work-related.
If you attend a work-related conference for 5 hours every day, the entire time you are away will be considered work-related.
5. Traveling between company job sites
An employee using their personal vehicle to travel from one office to the next, from the office to the factory or from one job site to the other is eligible for workers’ comp benefits in case of an injury. This may include a physiotherapist driving to see a patient in a different hospital, a construction site manager moving from one construction site to the next, or an employee driving from the office to the company production plant.
Filing a claim after a work-related car crash
The first step to take after a car crash is to seek medical attention. Getting prompt medical care will lessen your risks of developing complications that may keep you out of your job for a long time. This will also be used as evidence of injuries. If you don’t seek immediate medical attention, the company or insurer might argue that your injuries weren’t serious.
You’ll need to see the insurance-provided doctor for initial injury treatment. You can get a doctor of your choice later, if you feel you aren’t getting the medical care you deserve. Keep all the records of your medical expenses and doctor consultations for easy filing of your workers’ comp claim later.
Next, report the incident to the company manager. You have up to 30 days to report an injury in order to get the benefits that you deserve.
Contact a Georgia workers’ compensation attorney
Our attorneys understand the tiniest details of the law and will guide you through the filing process. If your claim is denied and you have to appeal, our Atlanta work injury attorneys will come in handy as they have the knowledge and experience to fight a denial.
Dealing with an injury is taxing. You may have several doctor visits, tests and long-lasting pain. The injury may affect you emotionally, physically and financially. Allow a lawyer who understands Georgia workers’ compensation law to help you file your claim (or appeal your claim) for the best results.