Am I Covered by Workers’ Comp When I’m Injured on the Way to or From My Job?

The simple answer to this question is no—but there may be exceptions. Workers’ compensation insurance is provided to cover employees for injuries or illnesses they suffer while on the clock at their jobs. Because workers aren’t being paid for the time it takes to and from their jobs, they’re not covered by workers’ compensation during that time.

However, some workers are paid for travel time, which makes them eligible for workers’ comp if they are injured while traveling. There may be other exceptions as well.

Am I Covered by Workers’ Comp When I'm Injured on the Way to or From My Job?Why the Limits on Coverage?

The purpose of workers’ comp is to cover the medical expenses and lost wages of employees who are injured on the job or made ill by exposure to a dangerous substance at work. When an employer carries workers’ comp insurance—which every company with over five employees in Kansas and Missouri must do—he is also exempt from being sued by the worker because of an accident.

Workers’ comp is considered “no fault” insurance because it applies whether the employee was injured by his own carelessness or because of the negligence of a co-worker or employer. But if a worker is impaired by alcohol or drugs or hurts himself intentionally, his workers’ comp claim will likely be denied.

In most cases, the sticking point is whether or not the worker was actually injured on the job. Workers’ comp insurance adjusters will dispute claims if they suspect the worker is trying to get benefits for an injury he sustained outside of work or for an illness unrelated to his work environment.

Exceptions to the Going and Coming Rule

Even though you could argue that commuting to and from your place of employment is “work related” and should, therefore, be covered, the going and coming rule says otherwise. If you’re driving to or from work; walking from your car to the building; or out on a lunch break when you slip and fall or get in a car accident, you would not be covered by workers’ comp.

Some exceptions might include the following:

  • Driving a company car. If you have a company car and are in an accident while driving it to or from work, you’ll probably be covered by workers’ comp.
  • Traveling as a job duty. If you’re a delivery truck driver, messenger, bus driver, police officer, or have another job that requires travel, and are injured while traveling, your injuries will be covered by workers’ comp because you’re on the clock and the travel is part of your job description.
  • Traveling between job sites. If you work at multiple sites throughout the day and are in an accident while traveling between sites, this is generally considered job-related and will be covered.
  • Running an official errand. If your manager sends you on an errand—including a coffee run or personal errand—and you’re injured, you should be covered by workers’ comp.

If you’re injured outside of your workplace and aren’t sure if you’re eligible for workers’ comp, report your injury to your supervisor immediately and contact an experienced Kansas City workers’ compensation attorney. He or she will be able to tell you if you have a case.

Examples Of “Going and Coming” Workers’ Comp Case Exceptions

Recent workers’ comp appeals in Kansas and Missouri illustrate the uncertainty involving the “going and coming” rule.

In a 2014 case in Kansas (Williams v Petromark Drilling, LLC), a young oil worker was denied workers’ comp when he suffered a rollover accident after leaving a remote job site in a co-worker’s car. Even though traveling to the site was considered work-related, he turned down a ride from his supervisor and chose to drive for his own convenience. Thus, his injuries were deemed not related to work.

In an unusual ruling in a 2011 case in Missouri (Lantie Wilson v Buchanan County), the appeals court found that an employee who slipped on ice in his employer’s parking lot on his way into work was eligible for workers’ comp, because he would not have been in the parking lot if he was not reporting for work.

These cases show the “going and coming” rule is open to some degree to interpretation.

Have You Been Injured On The Job?

If you’ve been hurt at work on the job in Kansas City you need to speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Kansas City office directly at 816.471.5111 to schedule your free consultation.