Prior to 1994, an individual who was traveling to and from work in their personal car was deemed to be on the job. This meant that if you were rear-ended while going to work or returning home in the afternoon, your case was covered under workers’ compensation. This was called the “coming and going rule” but the law is very different now.
First, the “going and coming” rule was abolished and you are no longer considered on the job when you travel to and from work. This means that if you are involved in a motor vehicle accident you must pursue your medical benefits under your personal injury protection (PIP) policy. If you have any lost wages, you must also pursue that claim under your PIP policy or short-term/long-term disability that you may have at work.
I recently dealt with a case in which an individual was deemed to be on workers’ compensation while he was running a “special errand”. This special errand rule states that if your boss asks you to use your car to run an errand during the work day, it is considered an on the job injury. My client was asked to go pick up building supplies at Home Depot from the job site and was rear-ended by a truck. This resulted in him receiving workers’ compensation benefits as well as allowing me to pursue a personal injury claim against the truck that hit him. Therefore, this individual would have two claims.
Another interesting scenario where workers’ compensation would pay benefits deals with an individual going to a doctor/healthcare provider/physical therapy while on workers’ comp. If a claimant is injured on the job and is traveling to an authorized treating physician when he is rear-ended, the workers’ compensation carrier must pick this case up as well. I have had many individuals who injured their back while lifting objects at work and began a course of treatment. While they are traveling to the physical therapy, my client is rear-ended and this is considered an on the job injury. As in the paragraph above, my client now has two claims which consist of the motor vehicle accident claim and the new workers’ compensation date of injury.
If any of you have any thoughts or comments on these above scenarios, please do not hesitate to contact me by e-mail or over the telephone.