Workers’ Comp Benefits and the Going and Coming Rule

Traveling for work is a complex issue when it comes to your eligibility for workers’ compensation. The general rule is that workers’ compensation doesn’t cover your commute to and from work.

Does Workers’ Comp Cover Travel for Business?

Yes, workers’ comp covers travel for business. When you’re traveling because of your work, you can claim workers’ compensation in the event of an injury. The workers’ compensation system operates the same way whether you’re actively on the job or traveling for your employer.

Personal errands during work travel are not covered; however, the travel itself and incidental activities like the hotel and meals still fall under the workers’ compensation system. Workers’ compensation covers travel for business except for strictly personal activities during the trip.

Man traveling for work

Does Workers’ Comp Cover Travel to and From Work?

Workers’ comp does not cover travel to and from work. However, there may be situations when you are traveling related to work that are actually covered. Travel to and from work is generally not included. Still, if you are running errands for your employer or on a work-related travel assignment, you may actually be classified as working.

It depends on whether you’re serving the interests of your employer during the travel. Although the general rule is that workers’ comp does not include travel to and from work, there may be situations where your traveling counts as being on the job.

Workers’ Compensation and Travel

The purpose of workers’ compensation is to provide employees easy access to financial compensation when they’re hurt at work. The general rule is that you can claim workers’ compensation for work-related injuries. If you’re on the job and you get hurt, you can access the workers’ compensation system to pay for your medical bills and provide replacement income.

However, workers’ compensation doesn’t cover the risks of daily life. For that reason, the employee’s personal commute doesn’t fall under the workers’ compensation system. If you get hurt going to or from work, you have to look to your own car insurance or personal insurance to pay your expenses. You may also bring a third-party claim for financial compensation, but the person or entity that caused your injury is responsible for your damages, not your employer.

Traveling for Work

However, even if you’re traveling at the time of your injury, you’re not necessarily out of the workers’ compensation system. You may be traveling for work and not realize it. When you’re traveling on company business, you’re still covered by workers’ compensation.

Even things that are incidental to the travel itself, like staying at a hotel or eating meals while away from home, can classify you as working for the purposes of workers’ compensation. It’s essential to evaluate the entire circumstances present when the accident occurs.

Buma vs. Providence Corp. Development – Nevada Supreme Court

In the Buma v. Providence Corp. Development case, the Nevada Supreme Court recently clarified the rules when it comes to what counts as work-related travel. Nevada Revised Statutes 616C.150(1) states that a person must show their injury arises out of the course of employment. The court said that a person might be in the course of their employment even if they’re not directly on the route of travel at the time of the injury.

In the Buma v. Providence Corp. case, the victim was the vice president of sales for his company. He worked from home and made his own travel arrangements. The victim traveled out of state for a conference. He stayed at a ranch with a friend and affiliate of the company. Together, the two prepared joint presentations to give on behalf of the company. The victim died while riding an ATV on the ranch.

The third-party workers’ comp insurer, and the lower court, denied the victim’s family workers’ compensation benefits. They said that the accident did not arise out of work duties. However, the Nevada Supreme Court vacated the lower court’s decision.

When Does an Injury Arise out of the Course of Employment for Workers’ Compensation Purposes?

The Nevada Supreme Court said that an injury arises out of the scope of employment when there is a causal connection between the victim’s injury and the nature of the employee’s duties. Under Nevada Revised Statutes 616B.612(3), all travel that an employee gets paid for is part of the course of employment.

However, even if part of the travel isn’t compensated hourly, it may still be work-related travel. Generally, workers’ compensation covers business trips. It covers the actual business part of the trip, but it also includes staying in hotels, sleeping, eating, and other navigation that has to happen for the trip.

Does the “Coming and Going” Workers’ Compensation Rule Apply During Business Travel?

In the Buma case, the lower court applied the “going and coming” rule. The rule prohibits compensation for injuries that occur during the commute. The Supreme Court explained that the employer is not liable for the daily dangers of the employee; however, the commuting rule isn’t applicable when a person travels for work. Under Nevada law 616B.612(3), traveling employees are covered, including acts that are incidental to traveling.

The court said that work travel doesn’t cover social and recreational activities that a traveling employee chooses to pursue. These are things that occur for strictly personal amusement. To be a personal activity, the employee must show an intent to abandon the job temporarily. It’s a very fact-dependent question that depends on the unique situation in each case.

Conclusion     

The workers’ compensation commuting rule is complicated. There are times that work travel is covered, and you are eligible for benefits. Sometimes it can be a difficult question of whether you’re traveling for business. The Las Vegas workers’ compensation attorneys at Adam S. Kutner, Attorney at Law explain travel, and the 2019 Nevada Supreme Court case of Buma vs. Providence Corp. Development.

The best way to know if you qualify for workers’ compensation is by getting a personal review of your claim by a qualified and experienced attorney.

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