For a lot of employees, it seems like the line between “work time” and “personal time” gets blurrier all the time. However, workers’ compensation benefits are only available for injuries that occur during work-related activities.
So, when does work actually start for workers’ comp purposes? Is it when you leave your house or when you hit the employer’s door? Does coverage only begin when you “clock in” and end when you “clock out” again? The answer isn’t always simple.
The “going and coming” rule is important to understand
In general, your commute is considered “your time,” even if that isn’t really how it feels. The “going and coming” rule says that you aren’t eligible for workers’ comp if, for example, you’re hit by a car or bitten by a dog while walking to work.
However, there are numerous exceptions to this rule, and it’s good to have a basic understanding of when they might apply. Some exceptions include the following:
- You travel as part of your job: If you’re a delivery driver, an insurance adjuster who has to inspect homes for claims or do any other job that requires you to travel as a normal part of your duties, injuries suffered while you’re out may be covered by workers’ comp.
- You’re on a business trip: You may not be on your employer’s time when you slip and fall in the hotel lobby where you were attending a conference, but you were there for your employer’s benefit. That can make your injuries eligible for benefits.
- You’re going to a secondary job site: Maybe the satellite office needs some backup for the day, so you’re asked to fill in. If you’re in a car wreck on the way over, that would likely still be considered a work-related injury.
- You’re running errands for the boss: If you are injured while picking up the boss’s lunch or pizza for an office party, that’s still work-related.
Don’t let your employer convince you that you’re ineligible for workers’ compensation without a fight. If you believe you should be compensated because you were hurt on company time, find out more about what the law says about your claim.