Typically, a person would not be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits if they suffered an injury on the way to or from work. That’s what’s called the “coming and going” rule.
However, the Virginia Workers Compensation Commission (VWC) determined that this rule doesn’t apply in the case of a man whose denial was appealed. He works on an on-call basis for a company that provides repairs and maintenance to 911 call center communication systems.
The man drives from his home directly to the facility that needs service in a truck owned by his employer and is paid for that drive time. This has been determined to be more efficient than stopping at his employer’s headquarters to pick up a truck every time he is needed on a call.
His workers’ comp claim was for multiple injuries he suffered when he slipped on ice while he was scraping ice off the windshield and windows of the truck so that he could see. He wasn’t preparing to go on a call but to an appointment that he’d scheduled at his employer’s request to have the airbags in the truck replaced due to a recall.
Commission ruled that man was “in the course of…employment”
The reasoning for the initial denial was that his injuries were suffered during a “preparatory act“ prior to doing anything required for his employment. Two out of three commissioners disagreed.
According to the ruling, the employee “was in the course of the employment when he sustained his injuries.” Injuries are covered by workers’ comp, they stated in the ruling, “when it takes place within the period of the employment, at a place where the employee may reasonably be, and while he is reasonably fulfilling duties of his employment or engaged in doing something incidental thereto.”
Far fewer employees are tied to a specific workplace than in the past. That can put what’s considered part of a person’s “workday” into a larger grey area than was previously the case. That’s something that workers’ comp authorities, employers and employees will have to maneuver. If you believe you were wrongly denied workers’ comp benefits because of when or where an injury occurred, it can be helpful to seek legal guidance to better understand your rights.