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Can a car accident be covered under workers’ comp?

As a rule, employees who are in car wrecks when they are traveling to and from work aren’t considered eligible for workers’ compensation for those injuries. This is usually called the “going and coming rule.”

However, like most rules in the law, there are plenty of exceptions. Your time on your travels may not always be your own. When it’s not, you may have a valid claim for workers’ compensation in addition to any civil injury claims you might pursue.

Was your injury incurred during the course of your employment?

Just because you were on the road and away from the main office, that doesn’t mean you were exactly off-duty. Consider the following examples:

  • Your boss forgets their keys and asks you to deviate from your normal path home in order to bring them to her
  • A customer needs something away and your boss asks you to make a delivery, even though it’s not part of your usual duties
  • You have a conference you have to attend, and your travel time is being covered as part of your usual work schedule
  • You had to travel from one office location to another or you have to routinely travel between customers’ homes or businesses
  • You’re asked to run errands for the office, including picking up lunch or coffee for meetings

In all of these scenarios, you would likely be entitled to workers’ compensation if you’re injured in a wreck. If you were “on the job” (even if not officially so), you’re entitled to benefits for any injuries that occur during that time.

The situation can get complicated, however, if an employer maintains that you were really on your lunch break when the car wreck happened, or that you were doing something that took you away from your work duties. For example, maybe you were making deliveries, but you diverted your route so that you could drop something off at the post office. That could raise questions about whether you were injured in the scope of your employment or not.

If your employer says that you’re not entitled to workers’ compensation, you don’t have to take their word for it. You can (and probably should) seek out legal guidance from someone who is on your side.