What is the "coming and going" rule in workers compensation law?

The coming and going rule imposes limitations on workers compensation benefits in most states. While workers compensation is designed to provide a wide array of protections to workers who are injured, the coming and going rule means that workers cannot generally collect workers comp benefits if they are injured while commuting to or from work. 

How does the coming and going rule affect workers comp benefits?

Workers compensation benefits are set on a state by state level, but much of the legislation is similar. In the vast majority of jurisdictions:

  • Workers may collect benefits for any injuries arising from the duties of performing their job
  • The worker need not have been at work, as long as the injury happened as a direct result of him doing a work assignment or task
  • The employer need not have been negligent to be responsible for providing benefits, and negligence on the part of the employee does not necessarily disqualify him from collecting workers comp benefits.

Because these rules allow workers to recover for any injuries that directly result from work duties or tasks, some people have attempted to argue that going to work was a work related duty or task, and one that was a necessary component of their jobs. While technically true, workers comp legislation wasn't really designed to provide this form of protection. As such, the coming and going rule limits recovery for commuting injuries. 

This does not mean, however, that you can never recover workers comp benefits for a car accident. If you must go somewhere in a car as a part of your job, then you may be able to recover damages if you are injured during this process, as long as the injury is viewed to have arisen because of work.

The workers comp benefits system is an administrative system with a wide array of special rules. If you believe you have a workers comp claim, you should speak with a lawyer as soon as possible to learn about the process for collecting benefits in your state.