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Does workers' comp cover me on my way to work?

No one wants to suffer a workplace injury. The pain and anxiety, not to mention the stress it places on your family, make a workplace injury an event you avoid as carefully as possible. You follow safety protocol, wear protective gear and attend mandatory training. You and your coworkers look out for each other.

Nevertheless, it is nice to know that workers' compensation insurance is available to help you through a difficult time if you do happen to get hurt or ill on the job. Workers' compensation will cover your medical bills and lost wages if the accident occurred during your normal work activities. However, what about your drive to work in the morning?

What activities qualify for compensation?

Logically, your drive to work is part of your work day. After all, if you didn't have to be at work, you probably would not have been on the road when the accident occurred. Therefore, it would seem to you that your medical expenses should fall under workers' compensation if you receive injury in a car accident while traveling to or from your job, right?

Unfortunately, workers' compensation insurance includes an exception called the going and coming rule. This rule states that the hours of your workday that workers' compensation covers do not cover your commute to and from work. This means you cannot claim workers' compensation for your lost wages and other expenses related to a traffic accident on your morning commute, with the following possible exceptions:

  • You are driving a company car, especially one that has a logo advertising the company on its side.
  • Driving is a major part of your job -- such as if you are a truck driver, police officer or bus driver -- and the accident occurred in the course of your driving duties.
  • You are driving between job sites, such as a landscaper or IT technician.
  • You are away from home on a business trip, even if the accident occurs outside your normal work hours.

You may also be able to claim workers' compensation if your employer sends you out for coffee or to pick up lunch for your coworkers, and you are involved in an accident while on that special mission.

Workers' compensation may be available to you outside of work hours on other occasions, too. For example, if you receive an injury during a company picnic or other work-sponsored event, you may have a claim. To learn more about whether your particular circumstances qualify you for workers' compensation, you can obtain answers from a California legal professional.

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