Florida Workers' Compensation - The Coming And Going Rule
Often people are injured in auto accidents while driving to or from their place of employment. People may also be injured while on a company trip or running errands for the company. We all know that worker's compensation will cover us if we are injured while on the job, but when you are hurt off the premises, are you covered by workers' comp? Worker's comp generally does not cover an employee who is enroute from the office or the home, but in certain circumstances, the "coming and going rule" will provide coverage for employees who are injured while in transit. The coming and going rule basically says that injuries received by an employee during the commute to or from work aren't covered, but other transportation-related injuries may be covered. In other words, if you are out picking up dry-cleaning for your boss and you are injured in a fender-bender, you may be entitled to worker's compensation.
There are exceptions to workers' compensation that cover commuting and traveling. The coming and going rule may provide coverage for a employee in certain circumstances. They are:
(1) the employee has no fixed place of work (for example: a company salesperson who travels from a home office to a client's place of business);
(2) the employment contract includes transportation to and from work;
(3) the employee is on a special assignment for the employer;
and (4) special circumstances are such that the employee was furthering the business of the employer while commuting.
An employee who is running an errand for the company is likely to be covered by worker's compensation if they are involved in an accident while performing that task. But what about an employee who is out of state on a company trip? If you slip and fall in the hotel after dinner one night, you'll likely be covered. But, if you are at a convention in Las Vegas, and you take a side trip to see Hoover Dam while you are there, then fall at the dam and are injured, are you covered by workers' compensation? Facts will tell you that you probably won't be covered for the fall because you likely will be considered to have 'abandoned employment' since the excursion to the dam was not part of the employer's job performance request and would be considered to be for "personal interests", not for employment.
What about if you leave work, head for your car, fall in the parking lot, and are injured? You are most likely covered if the parking lot is controlled and owned by the employer (Toyota of Pensacola v. Maines, 558 So.2d 1072 (Fla. 1st DCA 1990). Also, in New Dade Apparel, Inc. v. De Lorenzo, 512 So.2d 1016, 1018 (Fla. 1st DCA 1987), the court held that an injured employee who returned early from vacation to work at the special request of his employer was covered under the special errand exception.
The Coming and Going Rule can be tricky to interpret. There is a fine line of interpretation of the "going and coming" rule, and its exceptions. Rulings depend on the nature and circumstances of the particular employment, and no exact formula can be laid down which will automatically solve every case. The legal system often refers back to precedents set by prior cases to help rule on current litigation. An employee who is hurt during their commute, carrying out an errand, or when out of town for their job would be wise to contact a work accident compensation attorney to find out if they might be covered under worker's compensation.