General Question

jca's avatar

Can someone receive Workmen's Comp if they get injured while commuting to work?

Asked by jca (29052 points ) January 3rd, 2011

During the recent snowstorm we had (12/26/10) in the northeast, the municipality that I work for did not close, as many employees hoped it would. Since it was therefore technically a workday like any other Monday, employees had to come to work and anybody who stayed home had to “use their time.” Most people just stayed home and used their time, as the roads were really not safe and emergency responders issued pleas for people to stay off the roads except for emergency vehicles and cleanup crews.

One of my coworkers wrote in her Facebook that if she had been in an accident, she would have sued. I responded that someone would not have a successful suit because nobody forced the employees to come to work, they used their discretion, and if someone decided it was not safe they had the option to stay home. Another coworker then responded to what I wrote and said that there was a case of someone (somewhere else, presumably) who got Workmen’s Comp for getting into an accident on the way to work.

This seems far fetched and I tend not to believe things like that unless I verify them myself.

Could someone get Workmen’s Comp if they get injured while on the way to work?

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13 Answers

blueiiznh's avatar

Not in this case. You are not on the clock for the company until you get to work and are on their premises. I too live and work in the Northeast and know the storm. I was ready to drive in to work as I was on call. I knew however that if the roads were bad enough, I would turn around if I needed to. Just as I was about to leave, my Director sent a notice that it was ok to work from home.
Like you stated, you are driving in at your own discretion and responsibility. No to the Workers Comp thing.

YARNLADY's avatar

No, unless you were on company business.

faye's avatar

I slipped on ice in the company’s parking lot on my way into work and got worker’s comp for a bruised kidney that became infected.

blueiiznh's avatar

@faye yes, IN the company parking lot. That lot is their responsibility.

SavoirFaire's avatar

Like @YARNLADY said, not unless the person was on company business. It is in some people’s contract that their daily commute is considered time worked, especially if they are provided with a company vehicle (though having a vehicle provided is not a guarantee of this). Even then, however, the contract may specify that a normal commute would not qualify for worker’s compensation. If the case your coworker mentioned was genuine—and not just an urban legend—then it is because of the specific conditions of that person’s contract.

mrlaconic's avatar

If I were the judge in said law suit I would dismiss this case because as you said @jca no one forced them to go to work. Also I know that it snows pretty much every year back in that area (some years are worse then others but regardless…) so the person should know if you can drive on the roads or not.

Just my two cents.

blueiiznh's avatar

Sounds like we need to put a label on it too. Does nobody take responsibility for their own actions anymore?
“the first thing we do…...............

Yetanotheruser's avatar

I guess it must depend on the workmen’s comp laws in the state. A friend of mine was involved in a serious accident on the way to apply for a job, and the state of Florida considered him eligible for workmen’s compensation.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Yetanotheruser Did your friend get the job? And are you sure it was the business your friend was applying to that had their worker’s compensation insurance charged for the injury? I’ve been looking at Florida’s website about worker’s compensation, and it looks like the law is written quite broadly there. It still only applies to actual employees, however, so it might have been the previous employer covering your friend’s benefits. But if he got the job, then it looks like the new employer would be on the hook for it. These would be interesting details to know.

Yetanotheruser's avatar

He had been self-employed for years before, and I don’t know if he paid into the fund as an independent contractor or not. After the accident, he was unable to work for several years due to his injuries.

SavoirFaire's avatar

Most independent contractors still have to pay insurance, but not all. It would be interesting to know whose insurance was charged for the injury. But like I said, the law in Florida is written very broadly. Since an application is the first stage of employment, and since the law says that all stages of employment are covered, he might been saved by a technicality. This seems especially likely if he had a high chance of getting the job.

But I’m not a lawyer, and I’m just reading the law on the internet. Still seems like an unusual case, though.

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john65pennington's avatar

The workmans comp. law only includes emergency personnel going to and leaving their place of employment. This would include police officers, mainly since most officers leave their home in uniform and must perform police duties, in either case. This has happened many times in my police department. One officer slipped and fell on ice as he was on the way to his work location. He was trying to rescue a woman in an auto accident, in a burning vehicle. He was covered in this incident.

Other than emergency personnel, I can think of no other reason a person should be covered by workmans comp., by just traveling to and from their place of employment.

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