Generally, if you are injured on your commute to or from work, you are not eligible under the PA Workers’ Compensation Act for workers’ compensation benefits. This is generally known as the “Coming and Going Rule.” However, there are four exceptions to this rule:
1. The employment contract includes transportation to or from work;
2. The employee has no fixed place of work;
3. The employee is on a special assignment or mission for the employer; or
4. Special circumstances are such that the employee was furthering the business of the employer.
The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania addressed these exceptions in a recent case where the employee was seriously injured in a car accident on his way to work. As a result of his injuries, he was unable to return to his job as Director of Maintenance, a position where he was required to respond to all emergencies. If an emergency occurred on a day he was off, the employer gave him “comp time.” The “comp time” would run from when he was called to work until he arrived back home.
The employee in this case was sick on the morning of his car accident. He was in the process of calling off work sick when he received a phone call from his employer telling him he needed to come in to handle an emergency with one of the security cameras. Employer told him there was no one else available to handle the emergency. The car accident occurred on his was in to handle the emergency.
The employer denied workers’ comp benefits, taking the position he was hurt on his commute. The Workers’ Compensation Judge found otherwise and granted his benefits finding that employee was on a special mission for employer – “Claimant was sick…, and except for the special need of the Employer…Claimant would not have gone to work.” The Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board upheld this decision but called it a “special circumstance” exception.
The Commonwealth Court agreed. The Court found that the only reason Claimant went in to work that day was to help Employer with an emergency. He was entitled to “comp time” which covered his travel time. Workers’ compensation benefits were properly awarded.
Cases involving injuries sustained commuting to work are always difficult and are dependent on the specific facts of each individual case. Consult one of our attorneys to discuss the facts of your case.