Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation and the “Going and Coming Rule” Exceptions
According to Pennsylvania law, the “coming and going rule” maintains that workers who are commuting to and from their place of employment, and suffer injuries, are not entitled to compensation. This rule has been maintained throughout the Commonwealth, but there are exceptions that may apply. If an exception does apply, an experienced Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney can petition for the court to in fact hold that the commute was “within the course of employment.” The injured worker would then be eligible for benefits under the law.
Exceptions to the general rule that workers injured during their commute are not eligible for benefits were analyzed in a recent case. The court there held that the claim for benefits should be denied, since the employee in that case was injured while dispatched to one of several potential work sites. The court held that she did not have no fixed place of work, within the meaning of the exception for the “going and coming” rule.
In fact, the exceptions to the going and coming rule are:
-A worker has no fixed place of work.
-The employment contract includes transportation to and from work.
-The worker is on a special assignment for the employer.
-Unique circumstances apply, since the worker had been furthering the employer’s business.
In this case, the court held that an exception to the rule applies when employees are moved from one site to another, after they have begun working at an initial site. When assessing eligibility for workers’ compensation, courts will often make clear that the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act is remedial and intended to benefit the worker. When reviewing an injury that arises in the course of employment, the judge will consider all actions that further the business of the employer, whether they occur on the employer’s premises or elsewhere.
In practice, Pennsylvania workers’ compensation cases have maintained exceptions to the going and coming rule in certain circumstances. In one Pennsylvania case, a State Trooper was traveling to work in a vehicle when he was struck by another vehicle that turned illegally. The court focused on the fact that the Trooper had testified that before the accident, he had intended to make an arrest for the illegal turn. The Trooper was determined to be eligible for workers’ compensation.
However, commuting may not always be held to be within the scope of employment. For example, a worker for a training company had been employed to work on one project for an extended period of time. When he suffered injuries during his commute to work, the court held that these injuries were not work-related because he was determined to have a fixed place of employment.
Since every case is different, at Needle Law, our workers’ compensation attorneys will review and analyze the facts of your situation carefully. We provide a free consultation and can be reached by calling 570-344-1266.