WHEN EMPLOYEES are injured on the job they are eligible for workers’ comp benefits, but not if the accident occurs on their commute to or from work – in most cases, at least.
But how about if an employee is injured in your parking lot, or while running an errand for you after work?
There are two rules that govern at which point a worker is eligible for benefits if they sustain an injury:
The ‘coming and going’ rule
Typically, workers’ comp benefits won’t be paid for injuries sustained on a commute. This is known as the “coming and going” rule.
There are exceptions like whether the worker’s travel was a benefit to the employer or related to their job duties. There are four exceptions in all:
- No fixed work site – The employee travels to multiple job sites. If a worker travels to multiple sites in one day and gets injured en route even to the first one, injuries would typically be compensable.
- Off-site work – This could include if the employee is injured while on a business trip. The worker is deemed to be acting in the scope of their employment the whole time while away on business, even at the hotel.
- Special assignment – If during their regular commute the employee also is performing a special errand or “mission” for their employer.
- Traveling worker – When an employee must travel in order to accomplish job duties, the coming and going rule does not apply.
The ‘premises’ rule
If an employee is injured on the premises of your place of employment, they are more or less “at work” and should qualify for benefits.
Premises are not limited to areas owned or leased by the employer, but also to areas under their control. Various courts have held that employment starts when an employee arrives at a parking lot owned, maintained or used by the employer.
A California appellate court ruled that he was eligible for benefits under the workers’ comp premises rule.
The bottom line is that there are some instances where even the best workplace safety regimen can’t prevent a workplace injury. If a worker has an accident in the company parking lot, there is a good chance they could file a workers’ comp claim and receive benefits.
On the other hand, other dangers on your premises – think icy walkways – can be minimized with proper risk management, by alerting your landlord (if you rent), or fixing it yourself if you own the property.
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