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Generally, injuries that occur at work during work hours are covered by worker's compensation. But what about when you're commuting to work? Are you covered then?
Not usually. In most cases, the time spent commuting to and from work generally does not count as work, so injuries during that time are usually not considered work-related. This is called the portal-to-portal rule. Simple, right?
Not really. There are exceptions to this rule. Here are three situations in which injuries during commutes could potentially be covered by worker's comp:
1. Business Trips.
While traveling between your home and your workplace is generally not covered under worker's compensation, travel for work-related purposes may be covered. The main question to ask is, "Did the activity benefit the employer?" For example, say you're on a business trip for your employer, and you get hit by a car going from a meeting to the hotel. Since the trip has a benefit to the employer, your injury during the commute from the meeting to the hotel could potentially be considered a work-related injury.
2. Special Missions.
Injuries occurring outside of work hours while performing a "special mission" for the employer could be covered under worker's compensation. Special missions are tasks requested by the employer that the employee performs outside of normal work hours. Examples of special missions include: picking up a package during your lunch hour, dropping off your boss' dry cleaning on your way home, or getting coffee for your manager during your break.
3. Sidewalks and Parking Lots.
Worker's compensation coverage starts when you walk onto the employer's premises, usually the office or storefront where you work. But did you know that areas controlled by the employer, such as parking lots, sidewalks, and grassy areas, may also be included? So if you're injured in an accident in the parking lot while walking to your office, your injury claim may be covered by worker's compensation.
If you are injured on the way to work, all hope is not lost. An experienced worker's compensation attorney can help assess your injury claim and figure out the best way to proceed.