Workers’ compensation provides employees with compensation for injuries at work. While it is clear that workers’ compensation covers any proven injuries that happen at work, what happens when an employee is commuting to and from work? These are known as going and coming cases. Generally, an employer is not liable for goings and comings by employees. A recent case in New Jersey involved a woman who was hit by a vehicle while coming out of the garage where her employer rented a few spaces for employees. Lower courts sided with the employee but the Supreme Court of New Jersey reversed the decision citing that the employer merely rented spaces in the garage but did not own and control the garage.
If an employer owns or controls the area for parking for employees then an employee will likely succeed in a workers’ compensation claim. For example, an employee was entitled to benefits when she was hit in the parking lot of the mall where she worked. Her employer had directed her to where she should park to open up spaces for customers.
If there are situations where an employee is deviating from employment-related activity, there may be an issue of whether an employee is entitled to benefits in such going and coming situations. In one instance, an employee was coming into work and turned onto the private employer-owned road. The employee fell asleep, ran into a tree and injured himself. The employer argued that sleeping deviated from the employment activity so the employee should not be entitled to benefits. The employer eventually received benefits, but a new rule for such situations had been set.
Even with the continuing confusion, there are some jobs where an exception to going and coming rule applies:
- Salespersons and visiting positions. Positions where an employee is always on the road and expected to travel fall outside of the rule.
- Employer-supplied transportation. When an employer provides the transportation to the employee, an exception applies.
- Business travel. Even if the activity that caused the injury is not employment-related courts have allowed for injuries at such locations to be compensable.
- Employer-directed paths in dangerous areas. If an employer requires an employee to drive in dangerous areas, injuries are likely compensable.
- “Dual-purpose” activities. Employees doing both personal and professional tasks while away from work are generally an exception to the rule.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. Your case may be different. Hiring an attorney immediately will protect your rights. Consult an attorney in your area for further guidance.