Following a work injury, most people know there is likely an opportunity to collect workers' compensation. However, the rules get a little hazy when it comes to injuries that occur on one's commute to and from work.
As our Columbia workers' compensation attorneys can explain, courts in this state recognize the "coming and going" rule, which generally disallows injuries that happen while one is coming to or going from work. That's because in order to be compensable by workers' compensation, an injury needs to occur in the course of and arise in the scope of one's employment. The legal argument for coming-and-going is that one's commute does not meet the second prong.
Bear in mind, though: This rule is not absolute. There are numerous examples of cases wherein a worker was commuting to-or-from work and was compensated for injuries that occurred in the course of that travel.
In these instances, workers may be entitled to collect both workers' compensation benefits (which are no-fault, meaning it doesn't necessarily matter if you caused the crash) and compensation from the other driver's insurer (if he/she was at-fault).
As noted in the 1978 South Carolina Supreme Court case of McDaniel v. Bus Terminal Rest. Mgmt. Corp., the rule holds that an employee who is coming from or going to work is usually not considered to be engaged in a service that grows out of or is incidental to employment, which is the criteria for an injury to be deemed to have arisen out of employment and in the course of.
However, there are numerous exceptions to this rule.
Exceptions to Coming-and-Going in South Carolina
The state has recognized five basic exceptions to the coming and going rule, meaning if your situation falls into one of these circumstances, you may have a good case for pursuing a workers' compensation claim for an injury during commute. Those exceptions are:
- Injured employee is in a company vehicle. This is not absolute, but if you take your work vehicle home with you every night and drive it to work each day, your commute injury may be deemed work-related.
- Completing a work-related task. If an employee is given a work-related task on the way to or back from the job and is injured while carrying that out, this could be a compensable injury.
- Inherently dangerous route to-and-from work. For example, if there a blind curve you have to exit while leaving a job site and it's the only way out and you are struck by another vehicle while pulling out onto the road, your injury could be deemed compensable.
- You were in close proximity to employment. If you are injured, say, in the parking lot or were in a walkway leading up to your work or you were carrying out some work-related task, this may be an exception to the coming-and-going rule.
- Special task or errand. This might be outside the normal scope of one's employment, but it's nonetheless work-related. For example, your boss asks you to pick up lunch or dry cleaning, etc.
If you are injured on your work commute, call our Columbia attorneys to learn more about your options for workers' compensation.