Understanding workers' compensation coverage is important since you never know when a workplace accident may occur. If you work in a dangerous job, such as in the Texas oil and gas industry, you are likely prepared every day for the potential that you may suffer an injury at work. However, what about the time it takes you to travel to and from work?
Workers' compensation's "going and coming" rule typically excludes the time you travel between work and home. If you suffer injuries in a traffic accident on your way to work, your medical bills do not fall under workers' compensation benefits. There are some exceptions, and it is important that you understand how this rule applies to your job and situation.
Exceptions to the rule
Under some circumstances, workers' comp will cover injuries and losses when you are not on the job. For example, if you hurt yourself during a company party or a work-sponsored picnic, you may be able to claim benefits through workers' compensation. While an accident on your morning commute does not usually fall within these parameters, there are times when your drive may be work-related, such as:
- Your shift includes driving from one job site to another.
- You use a company car when you commute, especially one with a company logo on it.
- You are in an accident while running personal or business errands for your supervisor, such as picking up lunch or other assigned tasks not necessarily related to work.
- You suffer injuries in an accident at any time when you are traveling on a work-related trip, such as a conference or training.
Of course, if driving is the main part of your job, it is likely that workers' compensation will cover your injuries if you are in an accident. In fact, in the oil and gas industry, one of the most common types of accidents involves vehicle crashes on drilling sites or while transporting products.
Even if you work in a different industry, injuries from a motor vehicle accident will likely fall under workers' compensation if you drive for a living, provided you are not impaired by drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident and are not driving with flagrant recklessness.
Does your accident qualify?
The going and coming rule may seem clear, but there are many exceptions. If you are involved in an accident traveling to or from work, you may find it helpful to discuss the circumstances with an attorney who can help you determine if you have cause to fight for compensation through your employer's insurance.