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Can I Get Workers’ Comp If I Was Injured Traveling to Work?

In North Carolina, workers’ compensation insurance covers medical expenses and partial lost income for employees who suffer injuries on the job. Under state law, all businesses with three or more employees must carry workers’ compensation insurance to protect their employees.

Workers’ compensation covers injured workers who are injured while performing their job duties. However, questions often arise about whether an employee injured in a car accident qualifies for workers’ compensation coverage.

For example, what happens if you are injured while traveling to and from work? Workers’ compensation generally does not cover injuries suffered by workers commuting to work, but there are some exceptions. Consulting with a North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyer can help you understand whether you are entitled to seek workers’ comp benefits. Here are some general things to keep in mind about what happens if you suffer an injury while traveling to and from work.

The North Carolina Coming and Going Rule

North Carolina recognizes that most employees have a single location they travel to and from every workday. When it comes to commuting to work, just about everybody faces the same risks. Therefore, workers’ compensation does not generally cover injuries that occur when commuting to or from work. This is the essence of what is known as the coming and going rule.

For example, suppose you work at the same factory every day. If you have a car accident while driving to work one morning, your employer’s workers’ compensation carrier will generally not cover the costs of any injuries you sustain. If your injuries were caused by another motorist, however, you may be entitled to file a personal injury claim against the at-fault motorist to seek compensation for your losses.

The Dual-Purpose Rule

While commuting to work is not generally covered by workers’ compensation, one of the prime exceptions to this is the dual-purpose rule. The dual-purpose rule stipulates that if an employee suffers an injury while fulfilling a work requirement during the course of their commute, they may be eligible for workers’ comp if they’re injured while commuting.

For example, if your boss asks you to stop by a supplier’s warehouse to pick up some necessary items for the office during your commute, your employer benefits directly from your travel. Under such circumstances, you might qualify for workers’ comp benefits if you suffer injuries while running a work-related errand while traveling to work.

The dual-purpose rule also applies when you are making a business trip that includes an element of personal vacation. For example, if you must travel to Florida for work for two days and decide to stay two more days for pleasure, you may remain eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. The way to determine whether you still have a right to claim workers’ comp is to ask whether you would have skipped the vacation element if the work element were canceled. If so, courts generally consider you eligible under the dual-purpose rule.

Work Functions

Work functions, such as holiday parties, represent a grey area in workers’ compensation law. To determine whether you might be able to file for workers’ comp for injuries sustained while traveling to or from a work function, your attorney will consider the following factors:

  • Was attendance at the function mandatory or voluntary?
  • Did your employer encourage you to attend the function?
  • Did the employer sponsor the work function?
  • Do you and other employees consider the work function a benefit of being an employee of your company?
  • Did your employer benefit from the function in some way, such as increased revenue or an opportunity to market themselves?

These questions can help determine whether you are eligible for workers’ compensation for injuries you suffer in an accident on the way to a work function. Having an experienced workers’ compensation attorney review the circumstances of your injury can help you understand your options.

Exceptions to the Coming-and-Going Rule

While the coming-and-going rule applies in most commuter contexts, there are certain exceptions, including:

  • When you sustain an injury on a premises owned, controlled, or maintained by your employer For example, if you suffer injuries in your office parking lot, you may be eligible to claim workers’ comp.
  • When you are performing a special errand for your employer
  • When you are traveling to a particular location that is not your usual place of employment, such as when an architect visits a construction site
  • When you are traveling in a company-owned vehicle
  • When your travel incurs costs for which your employer will reimburse you

In these situations, you may have the right to claim workers’ compensation. If you or a loved one was injured while traveling to or from work, contact a knowledgeable workers’ comp attorney to discuss whether one of the exceptions applies to your case.

How Our Workers Compensation Attorneys Can Help

If you have suffered an injury while commuting to or from work, an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can provide the clarity and guidance you need. Here are some of the ways a knowledgeable lawyer can assist:

  • Evaluate the specifics of your case: A workers’ comp attorney will examine the details surrounding your injury, including where it occurred, what you were doing at the time, or whether it involved a work function or requirement.
  • Handle communications with insurance providers: The attorney will handle all correspondence with insurance carriers and other parties involved in your claim.
  • Determine all available compensation: There are several types of workers’ comp benefits you may be entitled to claim, including coverage of medical bills, lost wages, and more. An attorney will identify everything you qualify for and pursue your full compensation.
  • Represent you at hearings: If your claim is disputed, your attorney can pursue an appeal and represent you before the North Carolina Industrial Commission, which administers the workers’ compensation system. Having the representation of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney offers the best chance of obtaining a favorable outcome.

Contact Our Raleigh Workers’ Compensation Lawyers

Pursuing workers’ compensation benefits on your own as an injured worker can be challenging, especially if your work-related injuries occurred while traveling to or from work. A seasoned North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyer can give you the support and advocacy you need at this challenging time.

The legal team at Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks, P.A., includes attorneys who are board-certified specialists in North Carolina workers’ compensation law. If we determine that you have a valid workers’ compensation claim, our law firm will fight for the fair compensation you deserve. Call us today at 919-661-9000 or contact us online to learn more about how we can help you.

About the Author

Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks, P.A.
At Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks, P.A., our clients work closely with a legal team that is dedicated to providing outstanding client service and unflinching legal representation. The majority of our attorneys and support staff have worked with our firm for many years.

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