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Workers' Compensation - Coming and Going From Work

Are you covered under Workers' Compensation if you are injured while coming to or leaving work? What about entering or exiting the premises?

 To be compensable, an injury must be linked to the employment.  "Arising in the course of" employment means the employee was doing work for the employer, and there is some causal connection between the injury and employment.

What about traveling to and from work?

North Carolina has a "coming and going" rule.  "Injuries occurring while an employee travels to and from work do not arise in the course of employment and thus are not compensable." Deseth v. LensCrafters (2003). 

What if I am injured in an area around the building?

There is a limited exception for when "an employee is injured when going to or coming from work but is on the employer's premises." Id. For example, if the injury occurred in a parking lot or walkway area that the employer owned, maintained, provided, controlled, or otherwise exercised control over, a court will usually allow recovery. If the area is a common area that is not sufficiently controlled by the employer, the employer does not have a responsibility to maintain that area. For example, a mall parking lot has been held to be a non-compensable area. The court said that just because the employer shared in the costs of maintenance with other mall employers, that employer was not responsible for maintaining in the parking lot such that it would be a part of the premises.

What if I frequently go on business trips for my job?

If an employee travels frequently for her job, the employee is exposed to risks that are necessary for traveling. These employees are usually within the course of employment while on the trip, "except when a distinct departure on a personal errand is shown." Martin v. Georgia-Pacific Corp. (1969). The injury is usually compensable if the injury came from a risk that was necessary because the employee was sleeping and eating away from home. Id.

What if I was running a "special errand" for my employer?

If the employer requires the employee to run a special errand, the injury may be compensable because the work of the employee created the need for travel. In one case, the employer asked the employee to stop by a bakery on the way to work. The employee was running an errand for her employer that would otherwise have caused a separate trip. In Felton v. Hospital Guild of Thomasville, the court stated that "[w]here the employment necessitates travel, it has been held that the hazards of the route become the hazards of employment." The employee needs to be providing some other benefit to the employer besides just going to work.

What if my job requires special "preliminary preparations"?

There is another exception: "Preliminary preparations by an employee, reasonably essential to the proper performance of some required task or service, is generally regarded as being within the scope of employment and any injury suffered while in the act of preparing to do a job is compensable." Thompson v. Refrigerated Transport Co. (1977). In one example, the employee's job was to ready a tractor-trailer rig in preparation for a trip. His injury was compensable because the injuries "arose out of an in the course of his employment."

If you have been injured on the job and have questions about the compensability of your injury contact Miller Law Firm for a free consultation.

 

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