What is the Coming & Going Rule in Pennsylvania Related to Workers' Compensation?

image of someone's hands on a steering wheel with text that reads, 'the coming and going rule can impact many individuals, including construction workers, tradesmen, nurses, and first responders.'

Workers' compensation can be a complex and intimidating subject for many employees who were injured on the job. Specifically, Pennsylvania's workers' compensation laws can be difficult to navigate, especially when it comes to the "Coming and Going Rule." This rule can impact many individuals, including construction workers, tradesmen, nurses, and first responders. It may impact your ability to file a workers' comp claim, especially if you sustain an injury while commuting to or from work. In this post, we explain what the Coming and Going Rule is and how it affects workers in Pennsylvania.

What Does the Coming and Going Rule in PA Refer To?

The Coming and Going Rule, as the name implies, refers to the time a worker spends commuting to and from their workplace. In Pennsylvania, the general rule is that an injury occurring during the daily commute is not compensable under workers' compensation unless the commute falls within within one of the exceptions where the employee's transportation amounts to part of the work duties. Essentially, the worker must establish that they were already within the scope of their employment before the accident occurred. For instance, if a tradesman was involved in a car accident while driving from the hardware store to a construction site, the worker might be eligible for workers' compensation benefits because the hardware store trip was an essential part of their job. Let’s review the exceptions to the Coming and Going Rule in Pennsylvania.

image of a women in her home office with text over top that reads, 'employees with no fixed place of income are exempt from the coming and going rule.'

What Are the Exceptions to the Coming and Going Rule in Pennsylvania?

-The employee has no fixed place of work;

-The employment contract included transportation to and from work;

-The employee is on a special assignment for the employer; or

-Special circumstances are such that the employee was furthering the business of the employer.

One of the most important exceptions to the Coming and Going Rule in Pennsylvania is where an employee has no fixed place of work or the "traveling employee" doctrine. This exception applies to employees who do not have a fixed place of work and are required to travel from one location to another in order to perform their job duties. They often use company vehicles for their transportation as well, but it isn’t requisite for the doctrine to apply. This type of travel may be  considered "within the scope of employment" for the entire duration of their trips. For example, a traveling nurse who sustains an injury in a car accident while driving between patients for rotating visits throughout a work week might be eligible for compensation since the trip was an integral part of their job duties.

The ”traveling employee” exception may also pertain to workers who commute between multiple locations within a single workday. If an employee has more than one workplace, and their job duties require them to travel between the worksites throughout the day, an incident that occurs during the travel periods might be compensable as workers' compensation.

Another exception to the Coming and Going Rule in Pennsylvania is the "special assignment or mission" exception. This applies to employees who may be asked or required to perform a job-related task outside of their normal work duties while on their way to or from work. For instance, if you are a nurse who while driving home were required to make a stop at a patient's home on your way home to provide care outside of your regular working hours and were injured, you may be covered by workers' compensation because you were on a special mission.

image of a woman on the phone after a car accident that reads 'does the coming and going rule vary depending on specific circumstances?'

It's important to note however that the Coming and Going Rule varies a lot depending on the specific circumstances of each case. Excluding the 2 exceptions we reviewed, injuries that happen while commuting to and from a single workplace are usually not covered, meaning that workers' comp benefits may not apply. For instance, if a construction worker sustains an injury while driving to and from home to their job site each day, they might not be eligible for workers' comp benefits, although they can file a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver. Again these cases are very fact specific and vary from case to case that depending on the specifics a court may determine that an employee is covered by workers' compensation even if they were injured while commuting to or from work.

If you are injured on the job while commuting in Western Pennsylvania, it's important to speak with an experienced workers' compensation attorney like Mitch Dugan and his associates who can help you navigate the complexities of the Coming and Going Rule in Pennsylvania.

We Fight for the Check You Deserve When You’re Hurt at Work

Understanding the Coming and Going Rule in Pennsylvania is crucial for employees who may be at risk of injury while commuting to or from work. While the rule generally excludes injuries that occur during these times, there are important exceptions that may apply, including the traveling employee and special mission exceptions. No matter your situation, it's always a good idea to speak with a qualified attorney who can help you determine your rights and options under Pennsylvania's workers' compensation laws.

Mitch Dugan and his highly skilled and experienced workers’ compensation lawyers at Dugan & Associates will work vigorously to pursue fair and just compensation for loss of earnings, medical expenses, and damages. Consultations are free. If there is not a recovery of compensation, there is also no fee. Contact us today online or by telephone at 412-353-3572.

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