How to Overcome the ‘Going and Coming Rule’ and Win Your Pennsylvania Case for Workers’ Compensation Benefits
There are many potential pitfalls that can await an injured worker who pursues a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. One of these pitfalls, if the worker is injured while on the road, is often something called the “going and coming rule,” which denies benefits to workers hurt while commuting to or from work. This rule is not ironclad, and there are exceptions, however, that may permit a worker to win an award of benefits even if he was on the way to or from work when the accident happened. By retaining skilled Pennsylvania workers’ compensation counsel, you can make sure you are equipped to deal with and potentially overcome the pitfalls that might lead to an unsuccessful outcome.
One recent example of a worker who overcame the going and coming rule was the case of a demolition worker named Shawn. The Commonwealth Court’s opinion in Shawn’s case provides a very useful set of insights regarding what it takes to put together a successful workers’ compensation case. In this case, Shawn was a man who did work such as tearing out floors, walls, and ceilings for a cleanout and junk removal business. As the court explained in its opinion, you, as the injured worker who has filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, have the initial obligation to prove to the court that your claim meets all of the requirements imposed by the law for an award of benefits. One of those criteria is that you had to have been “in the course and scope of employment” when your injury took place. In other words, you must have been “on the job” and doing something for the benefit of your employer’s business when you got hurt. You do not need to have been on your employer’s premises when the injury occurred.
As a general rule, any injury that happens while you are commuting to or from work is not considered “in the course and scope of employment.” Thus, an injury that happens while you’re commuting to or from work will, in many cases, not permit you to recover workers’ compensation benefits. This rule, as with many in the law, is not true 100% of the time. There are exceptions. These can include your having a job in which your employment contract includes transportation to and from work, situations in which you have no fixed place of work, an injury that happens because you were on a special assignment from your employer, or other special circumstances in which you were “furthering the business of the employer.”
A lower court had ruled against Shawn, concluding that he was not in the course and scope of employment, but the Commonwealth Court determined that the lower court was wrong. Even though he was on his way home when his injury took place, Shawn was also traveling in a vehicle owned by the employer and was intending to make a stop at a scrapyard to dispose of material he and a co-worker had cleaned out at a job site. Shawn wasn’t just traveling home; he was performing a task for his employer (by stopping at the scrapyard). That meant that he was furthering the business of his employer, and the going and coming rule didn’t apply to his case.
If you’ve been injured at work, make sure you have knowledgeable counsel on your side as you pursue your claim for benefits. The diligent Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorneys at Needle Law Firm have been helping injured workers obtain fair awards of benefits for many years.
Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation by calling (570) 344-1266.