Written by attorney Alison Swicker Gokal

Labor Code - Getting around the "Coming and Going Rule"

Under theCalifornia Labor Code §3600, anemployer is liable to compensate an employee for any injury or death (irrespective of negligence) if:

(1) Where, at the time of the injury, both the employer and the employee are subject to the compensation provisions of this division.

(2) Where, at the time of the injury, the employee is performing service growing out of and incidental to his or her employment and is acting within the course of his or her employment.

(3) Where the injury is proximately caused by the employment, either with or without negligence.

. . .

Further, if an employee’s activity has a dual purpose (combines personal acts with business) and the business is a substantial factor, he/she is considered to be in course and scope of employment. (Leonard Van Stelle, Inc. v. Industrial Accident Commission (1963) 59 Cal.2d 836 – employee’s visiting of a friend in San Bernardino after travelling to the area for business, was in the course and scope of employment.)

Personal Errand:

When a worker completes a personal errand and returns to his place of employment to resume work, he reenters the course of employment. (Cal. Cas. Ind. Exch. v. Ind. Acc. Com. (1943) 21 Cal.2d 751 [135 P.2d 158]; Pacific Elec. Ry. Co. v. Indus. Acc. Com. (1934) 137 Cal.App. 245 [30 P.2d 444].) The court in McCarty v. Workmen's Comp. Appeals Bd. (1972) 12 Cal. 3d 677, stated “a brief personal errand during an ordinary working day" amounted to a “temporary deviation" and would not bar recovery.

Further, it is not essential to prove that the activity was beneficial to the employer for it to be within the scope of employment, if that activity has become a customary incident of the employment relationship. (McCarty, Id.) Thus, an employee is in the course of employment when the employee is doing those reasonable things that the contract of employment expressly or impliedly permits him or her to do. Any reasonable doubt should be resolved in favor of the employee. (LaTourette v. W.C.A.B.(2002) 17 Cal. 4th 644.)

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