You may feel like your workday begins well before you get to your job site, especially if you have a long commute – but that’s not how your employer or workers’ compensation sees it.
Broadly speaking, your commute is considered “your time,” and of no direct benefit to your employer, so injuries that happen on your way to work and on your way home again are not considered work-related. This is called the “going and coming” rule in workers’ compensation law. However, like most things in the law, there are some exceptions to this rule.
If you work at multiple job sites or travel as part of your routine duties, your travel time (and any injuries you incur during it) would likely still be considered work-related. This is particularly relevant to people who work as salespersons, delivery drivers, insurance investigators or even in-home health aides who have to travel from home to home as an ordinary part of their business.
When you’re out on a business trip, the whole of your travel time is generally considered part of your employment, even if you’re not officially “on duty” the whole time. If you’re hurt on your way to your hotel room, for example, that injury could still qualify for workers’ compensation – even if you’re technically done with work for the day.
What if you’re injured while you’re fetching coffee for the boss or doughnuts for an office meeting? If your employer asked you to pick something up for them or retrieve something they’ve forgotten at the office and drop it off on your way home, an injury incurred during the errand could still qualify for benefits.
It’s important to remember that, in all these scenarios, your employer may not be the most reliable source of information about your rights and options. There are a lot of gray areas in workers’ compensation, and every situation is unique. If you believe that you should be entitled to benefits because of injuries incurred outside of the office or away from the job site, it’s always best to seek legal guidance.