The coming and going rule refers to any accident involving an employee commuting to and from work. The law applies to all commute workers, but exceptions are made case-by-case.
In short, the going and coming rule prevents a claimant from receiving workers’ compensation benefits for an injury sustained as they were going to or returning to work. Compensation is not available if the injured worker did not perform employment services at the time of the accident. According to Ark. Code Ann. §11-9-102(5)(B)(iii), a compensable injury was sustained by the worker when employment services were not being performed, before an Arkansas employer hired the worker, or after the termination of the worker.
As a general rule, an injured worker with fixed hours and a specific work location is not entitled to workers’ compensation when injured traveling between home and the job due to the “coming and going” rule. This includes injuries that occur in the parking lot of their employer.
However, there are some exceptions to the rule, such as:
- Workers who travel through hazard zones to and from work.
- Workers paid for their travel time – the “travel-time exception.”
- Workers who deliver goods for their employer.
- Workers travel as part of their essential duties.
- Employees using a company-owned car.
- On-call workers, including doctors and emergency personnel.
- A worker asked to pick something up on their way to work. Referred to as a “special mission.”
- Workers with multiple job sites or without a permanent job site.
The Arkansas legislature changed the workers’ compensation law in Arkansas in 1993. This law overruled the “premises exception,” which previously allowed work comp benefits if an employee was injured in close proximity to the employer’s property even though the employee was not clocked in.
There have been a number of cases tried since 1993, and the Law Firm of Jason M. Hatfield prevailed on one of the only cases wherein a worker was injured while off the clock. In Barrett v. C.L. Swanson, Jason argued that an employee injured while doing something that her employer generally requires should be entitled to workers’ compensation even if that employee is performing that duty while “off the clock.” Jason argued that it was irrelevant whether or not the injured worker was “on” or “off” the clock. In such cases, the test is whether the injury occurred within the time and boundaries of employment and if the employee was advancing the employer’s interests. The Arkansas Court of Appeals agreed with Jason and overturned the decision of the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission. The Arkansas Court of Appeals found that Jason’s client was advancing the employer’s interests when she was injured checking her mailbox and the fax machine before leaving for the day but after she had already clocked out. She was entitled to compensation for a torn rotator cuff, temporary total disability, and permanent impairment.
Does the going and coming rule apply in your case?
It is not always easy to know if the going-and-coming rule applies to a specific case. To collect workers’ compensation, a claimant must prove that their injuries happened on the clock at work. Essential questions to ask oneself are:
- Was I doing something illegal that caused my work-related injury?
- Was I performing a duty considered to be crucial to my job?
- Was I driving between worksites?
- Did those worksite trips involve hazardous conditions?
- Did my employer ask me to go to a conference or seminar?
- Am I required to drive my vehicle while traveling for work?
- Did I run an errand for my employer while on a personal trip?
- Was I moving work-related materials?
- Was I injured during the usual commute to my workplace?
- Was I on-call?
- Am I required to travel for my job?
- Does my employer pay for travel?
- Are my expenses reimbursed?
The going-and-coming rule is often misconstrued depending on what happened during an incident. If you are in doubt, contact the Law Office of Jason M. Hatfield today. We are here to help and will walk you through the next steps. Discuss your situation and work-related injuries with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer at the Law Office of Jason M. Hatfield today. Call us at (479) 361-3575.