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The Coming and Going Rule in Workers' Compensation

UPDATED: June 29, 2020

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What you need to know...

  • The coming and going rule most often applies to employees who commute to and from work.
  • Ask yourself if you were injured performing a task or duty considered essential to your job.
  • Laws governing the coming and going rule vary by state.
  • A worker's compensation lawyer can help determine if your claim is an exception to the coming and going rule.

Workers' compensation (or workers' comp) provides an array of benefits for employees who are injured at work. Workers' compensation benefits can include medical bill coverage, wage replacement, and necessary rehabilitation costs. But when injuries happen outside of work premises, the coming and going rule in workers' compensation can apply to employee compensation claims.

What is the coming and going rule in workers' compensation?

The coming and going rule will most often apply to employees who commute to and from work. Because all individuals are equally at risk when using public roads and walkways, employers cannot be held individually responsible when an employee is injured on their way to and from work.

If this legal principle applies to your workplace injury, your employer will be exempt from having to pay employee compensation, even if these injuries make it impossible for you to return to work right away.

This does not mean that every commuter will automatically be denied workers' compensation as defined by the U.S. Department of Labor. But you need to be aware of your employer's limitations when it comes to being injured on your way to and from work. Refer to this video for reasons why your workers' compensation claim may have been denied:

Finding a workers' comp lawyer near you can help you better understand your claim and how the coming and going rule applies to you.

Enter your ZIP code above to start your search for a worker's comp lawyer today.

Scroll down for more information on exceptions to the coming and going rule.

When will the coming and going rule apply to my workers' comp claim?

If you are unsure whether or not the coming and going rule applies to your workers' compensation claim, ask yourself these 10 questions:

  1. Is traveling part of my required job duties or was I on call?
  2. Was I traveling to an event or conference at the request of my employer?
  3. Am I required to drive my personal vehicle when traveling for work?
  4. Did my employer pay for the travel or will I be reimbursed for my expenses?
  5. Was I traveling between worksites?
  6. Were any parts of the trip considered hazardous?
  7. Did I deviate from a personal trip to run an errand for my employer?
  8. Was I transferring work-related materials?
  9. Did my injury happen during a normal commute to work?
  10. Did illegal conduct contribute to my work-related injury or illness?

The most important question to ask yourself is whether or not you were injured performing a task or duty that is considered essential to your job. In order to collect workers' compensation benefits, you must be able to prove that your injury or illness happened at work or while you were on your employer's time performing a work-related duty.

These questions are meant to give you an idea of where to start when it comes to filing a workers' compensation claim. If you're interested in filing a claim, there are many resources regarding workers' comp available online, and you can connect with a worker's comp lawyer near you here to begin the process.

Does the coming and going rule only apply if I'm off company property?

You don't have to be onsite or using company property when you are injured to qualify for workers' comp benefits. It also isn't necessary to prove fault or negligence to file a workers' comp claim. The coming and going rule will only apply to workers who are commuting to or from work.

Will the coming and going rule still apply if the injury is not my fault?

Commuting employees are not eligible for workers' comp benefits no matter who was at fault. For example, if another driver fails to stop at a red light and hits you in an intersection while you're on your way to work, you will not be able to claim workers' compensation benefits for the accident. 

The coming and going rule eliminates any workers' compensation for a car accident on the way to work or on the way home.

Does the coming and going rule apply to sidewalks and parking garages?

In general, employees are only protected by workers' comp laws when they are on the employer's property or time. If you are injured walking into work, the coming and going rule might apply if the employer doesn't own the premises where the injury occurred.

In California, the parking lot of your workplace may count as your workplace for purposes of workers' compensation. A fall in the parking gets workers' compensation in California in most cases if the lot or garage is controlled by your employer.

Does the coming and going rule apply to employees working remotely?

Employees working remotely or working at home are still eligible for workers' comp benefits. The coming and going rule would not apply to them, though, as they are not commuting to and from work. Any travel required of the remote employee at the request of their employer would also be exempt from the coming and going rule.

What happens if my claim is denied due to the coming and going rule?

If your claim for employee compensation is denied, the first step is to appeal and find out why your workers' compensation claim was denied. You should receive a document informing you of why you were denied and the deadline for filing your appeal.

If the coming and going rule applies to your claim, then you must prove that you were performing an essential task for your employer when you were injured at work. Hire a workers' compensation attorney as soon as your claim is denied to help you better understand your rights and the Department of Labor's legal process for filing a workers' compensation claim.

Will I be fired if I appeal the coming and going rule?

Workers' compensation laws prohibit the termination of an employee out of retaliation. Employees can be terminated if they are unable to return to work after they've reached maximum medical improvement, but workers' comp benefits will remain intact.

What are the exceptions to the coming and going rule?

While employees could be denied workers' compensation benefits if they are injured during their commute, there are exceptions to the coming and going rule to protect workers from unnecessary injury.

Here are a few examples of who is exempt from the coming and going rule —

  • Employees making deliveries for an employer
  • Employees asked to pick something up on their way into or going from work
  • Employees without a permanent job site or with multiple job sites
  • Employees expected to travel as part of their essential duties
  • Employees traveling in a company-owned car
  • Employees who are on-call, including doctors and emergency personnel
  • Employees who must travel through hazard zones on their way to and from work
  • Employees paid for their travel time, known as the "travel-time exception"

Depending on where you live and work, your state workers' compensation laws will have different requirements for the coming and going rule. Where you live will also affect what kinds of workers' compensation benefits are available to you. Keep reading for more information on the coming and going rule statutes in your state.

Exceptions to the Coming and Going Rule by State

The course and scope of employment is the range of activity that can reasonably be expected of you while at work. Because the "course and scope" of your employment can be defined differently and include different areas of travel, each state varies on how they judge the coming and going rule.

Here is a brief overview of the exceptions to the coming and going rule in state workers' compensation laws —

  • Alabama — Exceptions to the coming and rule can apply when travel expenses are paid by the employer or if a company vehicle was used.
  • Alaska — The five state exceptions to the coming and going rule are:
    • Employee is running a special errand for the benefit of the employer
    • Employee must pass through a hazard area to get to and from work
    • Employee is paid for commuting time
    • Employee is driving or using company property, unless the property is being used for personal reasons
    • Employee is working at a remote site owned by the employer or per the employer's request
  • Arizona — State exceptions are called Dual-Purpose Exceptions and Deviation Exceptions:
    • Deviation Exceptions protect commuting employees who are deviating from their commute to run an errand for an employer
    • Dual-Purpose Exemptions apply when the business errand precedes the personal errand
  • Arkansas — The coming and going rule applies to all commuting employees. Exceptions to the coming and going rule in Arkansas are judged on a case-by-case basis only.
  • California — The state's "Special Errand Doctrine" is an exception that applies to any employee completing errands for their employer. Employees are also exempt if they are using company vehicles. The coming and going rule in California covers parking lots; in other words, the employer will be responsible for injuries while leaving work and coming to work if they occur in the workplace parking lot.
  • Colorado — State exceptions to the coming and going rule in Colorado include:
    • Commutes through high-risk areas
    • Travel during regular work hours
    • Travel to doctor's appointments for previous work-related injuries
    • Business-related departures from personal commutes
  • Connecticut — Commuters are exempt when:
    • They are traveling between worksites for the benefit of their employer
    • They are injured in parking premises that are maintained for or by the employer, regardless of whether it is owned by the employer or not
  • Delaware — Commuting employees are not eligible for workers' compensation benefits. Exceptions are judged on a case-by-case basis.
  • Florida — The only state exception to the coming and going rule is reserved for employees traveling for special assignments requested by the employer. These workers can get workers' compensation while traveling for work only in this limited circumstance.
  • Georgia — Exceptions to the coming and going rule are considered when an employer pays for or requests travel from the employee or when the employee is injured immediately upon arriving or leaving work.
  • Hawaii — Commuting employees are not eligible for workers' compensation benefits. Exceptions are judged on a case-by-case basis.
  • Idaho — The coming and going rule will not apply if:
    • The employee's commute involves exposure to high-risk or hazardous conditions
    • The employee is traveling per the request of the employer
    • The employee is injured in the vicinity of the worksite
  • Illinois — There are two types of employees that are exempt from the coming and going rule:
    • Traveling employees when the travel is a regular or required duty in the course and scope of their work
    • Commuting employees when they are injured in the parking premises within a reasonable amount of time before arriving to or leaving work
  • Iowa — The coming and going rule only applies to employees with fixed worksites and hours of pay. Exceptions for telecommuters, employees working from home, and other on-call or remote employees are judged on a case-by-case basis.
  • Kansas — When travel is a necessary part of the job, or as a special errand for the employer, the coming and going rule does not apply.
  • Kentucky — Employees are only exempt from the coming and going rule when on special errands that benefit the employer.
  • Louisiana: Louisiana does not have an official coming and going rule. Rather, workers' comp exceptions are judged on the "Course and Scope Rule" based on the time, place, and activity involved in the workplace injury —
    • "Time Exceptions" include injuries occurring during lunch and shift breaks or on personal errands approved by the employer
    • "Place Exceptions" include parking lots, garages, stairwells, and elevators
    • "Activity Exceptions" refer to travel between worksites or for the benefit of the employer
  • Maine — The only exceptions to the coming and going rule are for employees traveling between worksites and those traveling for the benefit of their employer.
  • Maryland — State exceptions to the coming and going rule include:
    • When travel is paid for or required by the employer
    • When an employee is injured on their way to and from work on the employer's premises, including parking lots
    • When there is a dual-purpose to the employee's travel, including working from home or special errands that benefit the employer
    • When employees must travel through high-risk areas on their way to and from work
  • Massachusetts: Employees must prove they were engaged in business for the benefit of their employer at the time of travel and injury to be exempt from the coming and going rule.
  • Michigan — If commuting employees are paid for their commute or other travel through wages or reimbursement, then the coming and going rule does not apply. The rule also won't apply to employees traveling on errands that benefit their employer.
  • Minnesota — The state's exceptions to the coming and going rule are:
    • When the employer pays or reimburses travel or commute expenses
    • When an employee uses their personal vehicle as work equipment
    • When an employee is required to carry essential tools or equipment in their personal vehicle
    • When an employee is on special errands that benefit their employer
  • Mississippi — State law recognizes these seven exceptions to the coming and going rule:
    • When an employee is paid or reimbursed for travel expenses
    • When an employee performs essential tasks at home with the approval of their employer and not for their personal convenience
    • When an employee is injured due to a hazard in their travel path
    • When an employer requests that an employee travel through or during hazard
    • When an employee is injured in a parking lot or garage owned by the employer
    • When an employee is injured in such close proximity to their employer's premises, even if the employer doesn't own the nearby property
    • When the employee is running a special errand for the benefit of the employer
  • Missouri — Employees are only exempt if they are running special errands for an employer or if the injury is sustained on parking premises owned by or in control of their employer.
  • Montana — Employees are not covered when traveling to and from work. Exceptions to the coming and going rule are heard on a case-by-case basis.
  • Nebraska — The coming and going rule does not apply to commuting employees running special errands or traveling between worksites.
  • Nevada — Commuting employees can only qualify for workers' comp benefits if they earn wages during the act of their commute.
  • New Hampshire — State exceptions to the coming and going rule are judged based on whether the injury was caused by a hazard of the employment and/or at the benefit of the employer.
  • New Jersey — The "Travel Time Exception" to the coming and going rule applies to employees in New Jersey who are reimbursed for travel time or paid wages for travel. Salaried employees, however, are not exempt from the coming and going rule.
  • New Mexico — The only state exception to the coming and going rule applies to employees traveling for work-related purposes.
  • New York — The coming and going rule applies to all New York commuters unless there is a significant risk or hazard in close proximity to the worksite that directly results in the employee's injury.
  • North Carolina — There are four coming and going rule exclusions in the state:
    • The "Traveling Salesman Exception" excludes remote employees, employees traveling for their employer, or employees who report to multiple sites or clients.
    • The "Special Errand Exception" excludes injuries sustained when an employee is running an errand that benefits the employer.
    • The "Contractual Duty Exception" excludes employees who are contractually paid or reimbursed for travel expenses.
    • The "Premises Exception" excludes employees who are injured on premises that are owned or controlled by the employer while going to or leaving work.
  • North Dakota — Exceptions to the coming and going rule are judged on a case-by-case basis. Employees traveling outside of the state are eligible for coverage through North Dakota Workspace Safety and Insurance.
  • Ohio — Commuting employees are not exempt from the coming and going rule unless they report to different worksites throughout a single workday or shift. Other employees may fall under any of these five state exceptions:
    • A "Special Hazard Exception" excludes an employee whose commute is riskier than average
    • A "Zone of Employment Exception" excludes employees that are injured in parking lots, entryways, stairwells, and other means of ingress/egress
    • A "Totality of Circumstance Exception" is an exclusion for situations in which an employer is in control of and/or benefits from the injury of the employee
    • A "Special Mission Exception" excludes employees completing tasks for employers that are outside the usual course and scope of their responsibility
    • An "On-Call Employee Exception" excludes employees that are on duty as soon as they receive the call, commuting time included
  • Oklahoma — The only coming and going rule exception is for employees traveling on behalf of their employer, as long as that travel is not also for a personal reason.
  • Oregon — State exceptions to the coming and going rule are:
    • Employees injured on special errands that benefit their employer
    • Employees injured in parking lots that are owned or maintained by their employer
    • Employees injured through high-risk entries or exits on employer's premises
  • Pennsylvania — Employees who are contractually obligated to travel, or those without a fixed worksite, are exempt from the coming and going rule. Other state exclusions include employees requested to work from home or on special assignments for their employer.
  • Rhode Island — The coming and going rule will not apply to employees using a company car or to employees on special missions that benefit their employer.
  • South Carolina — There are five general state exceptions to the coming and going rule —
    • When employees are running special errands for employers
    • When the employer provides the means of transportation or pays employees for travel time
    • When the employee is charged with a duty or task for his employer during their commute
    • When the path to work is more hazardous than an average commute path in the state
    • When a hazardous path to work is required by the employment contract
  • South Dakota — Exceptions to the coming and going rule are judged on a case-by-case basis.
  • Tennessee — Commuting employees are exempt from the coming and going rule in two scenarios:
    • When they are on special errands that benefit their employers
    • When they are within the employer's parking premises (once they leave those premises, the coming and going rule will again apply)
  • Texas — The Texas workers' compensation coming and going rule exceptions only apply when an employee is contractually obligated to travel or when the employer requests, controls, or pays for the travel.
  • Utah — There are two main exceptions to the coming and going rule:
    • The "Instrumentality Exception" applies when the employee uses a company vehicle for the benefit of their employer
    • The "Special Errand Exception" applies when the employee runs an errand for their employer during their commute
  • Vermont — Once an employee's vehicle enters the employer's premises, the coming and going rule no longer applies. Employees are also exempt from the coming and going rule when making special errands that benefit their employer.
  • Virginia — The only state exception is for a commuting employee whose only available path to work is high-risk or hazardous and they are injured taking said path.
  • Washington — The coming and going rule excludes employees using employer-furnished vehicles, those who travel to distant job sites, and employees on special assignments that benefit their employer.
  • West Virginia — The only exception to the coming and going rule is when employees are traveling for a specific job assignment or duty that benefits their employer.
  • Wisconsin — The coming and going rule applies to all commuting or traveling employees unless:
    • An employee is paid to attend a program or activity offsite that benefits the physical wellbeing of the employee
    • An employee is injured in the immediate vicinity of the worksite, including parking lots, when they are on their usual route into or out of work
  • Wyoming — The state exception is known as "The Premises Rule." It exempts any employee who sustains a workplace injury on the employer's premises when going to and from work before and after regular work hours.

Because the coming and going rule varies greatly depending on where you live, it's important to find a worker's compensation lawyer in your area that is familiar with your state workers' comp laws.

Will I need to hire a workers' compensation attorney to file an appeal?

If you believe your case to be a  workers' compensation coming and going rule exception, a workers' compensation attorney can help you with the legal processes and paperwork necessary to file an appeal. Watch this video to find out what to do before hiring a workers' compensation attorney:

A local attorney will also understand your state's unique judgments on the coming and going rule. They can help you decide whether or not these exceptions apply to your claim.

Do you still have questions regarding the coming and going rule and your workers' compensation claim? You can find a worker's comp lawyer near you by entering your ZIP code below.

References:

  1. https://www.dol.gov/general/topic/workcomp
  2. https://www.dol.gov/owcp/procedure-manual.htm
  3. https://hrdailyadvisor.blr.com/2018/01/15/slippery-situation-employee-entitledworkers-comp-benefits-parking-lot-fall/
  4. http://wcc.dli.mt.gov/TOOLS/Employment_CourseAndScope_ComingAndGoing.htm
  5. https://www.nj.gov/labor/wc/legal/cases/going.html
  6. https://www.workforcesafety.com/employers/across-state-lines/all-states-coverage

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