How the Traveling Employee and Special Assignment Exceptions Can Help You Win Your Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Case
In your workers’ compensation case, there may be many hurdles that you need to clear in order to obtain benefits. For a lot of workers hurt on the road, one hurdle is establishing that your injury occurred in the scope of your employment and that the going and coming rule doesn’t prevent you from recovering benefits. For the relatives of one deceased restaurant manager-in-training, they were able to succeed because they persuaded the Commonwealth Court that the circumstances of their deceased relative’s employment were such that an exception to the going and coming rule applied and allowed them to win their case. These rules, and the exceptions to them, highlight the strong need for having a knowledgeable Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney on your side when you are pursuing your case.
The facts of the manager’s case were truly horrific. Mandeep was a manager-in-training for a company that was a franchisee of Dunkin’ Donuts. The employer owned three Dunkin’ Donuts in the Philadelphia area. Mandeep worked mostly at the Wyncote, Pa. location, but, late one night in November 2010, he received a call stating that a kitchen employee at the Hatfield, Pa. store had fallen ill. Mandeep stated that he would go check out the situation. On the way to Hatfield, though, Mandeep and a fellow employee were involved in a car crash. Mandeep died two days later.
Mandeep’s parents filed a fatal claim petition under workers’ compensation. The key issue in Mandeep’s family’s case was the proper legal categorization of his trip to the Hatfield Dunkin’ Donuts that night. Generally, in a workers’ compensation case, the law requires that the employee be acting in the “course and scope of his employment.” The law has also created something called the “going and coming rule.” This rule basically says that, in general, when you are commuting to and from your job, you are not acting “in the course and scope of” your employment.
This all meant that, if Mandeep’s responsibility to assist at the Hatfield restaurant was part of the ordinary duties of his job, his car travel to the restaurant was covered by the going and coming rule, which would mean that it was not in the scope and course of his employment, and his family would not be entitled to benefits.
There are a few exceptions to the going and coming rule, however. If the employee is considered to be a traveling employee without a singular fixed place of work, the going and coming rule wouldn’t apply to a trip like Mandeep’s travel to Hatfield. If the employer’s instruction sending Mandeep to Hatfield that night constituted a “special assignment” by the company, that would also mean that the going and coming rule didn’t apply, and the family was entitled to benefits.
In this case, the Commonwealth Court determined that both of these exceptions applied to Mandeep’s situation. Even though Mandeep mostly worked in the Wyncote Dunkin’ Donuts, the totality of his job assignments took him, at various times, to all three of the employer’s Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants. These facts were enough to make Mandeep a traveling employee, according to the court.
Alternatively, even if he didn’t qualify as a traveling employee, the employer’s request that he go to the Hatfield location qualified as a special assignment, which meant that, regardless of whether or not Mandeep had a fixed place of work, the going and coming rule did not apply to his trip to Hatfield that night, and that meant that his parents were entitled to the benefits they sought.
When you take on the process of pursuing workers’ compensation benefits, it helps to have counsel on your side who knows the law and process thoroughly. The hardworking Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorneys at Needle Law Firm are here to provide the help you need. We have been offering injured workers diligent representation and personalized attention for many years.
Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation by calling 570-344-1266.