The first thing to know when filing a workers’ comp claim is if your actions fell within the course and scope of employment of your job. This term refers to actions you need to do to perform your job correctly. Only injuries from those acts are covered by workers’ comp, but there may be exceptions, specifically due to the Going and Coming Rule.
If you were injured performing job duties like sustaining a workplace burn, that’s clearly covered by workers’ comp. But what about injuries caused by working from home? Are injuries from company-mandated work events under the course and scope of employment? You may need a workers’ comp attorney to analyze your case.
To receive compensation for injuries and disability benefits, an employee must have sustained the injury within the course and scope of employment. If you haven’t heard this phrase before, read on. It’s important for all parties involved in a workers’ comp claim to understand.
What is the Course and Scope of Employment Rule?
An employee must show that their injury occurred while acting within the course and scope of employment to claim benefits. This means they were hurt while performing a function of the job or a task to benefit the employer. This is a frequently litigated issue.
Different states define this rule in their own unique statutes. In the state of Texas, for example, the course and scope of employment rule is defined as:
“an activity of any kind or character that has to do with and originates in the work, business, trade, or profession of the employer and that is performed by an employee while engaged in or about the furtherance of the affairs or business of the employer.”
The injury doesn’t need to occur on the employer’s premises to qualify for workers’ comp. Conversely, an injury sustained on workplace premises isn’t automatically covered.
If the employee is not working at the time they were injured, the injury did not occur within the course and scope of employment. Injuries outside of work only qualify for workers’ compensation if their actions were work-related, like getting hurt in a company-sponsored event.
When are You Outside the Course and Scope of Employment?
Ask yourself the following questions if you’re wondering whether you’re outside the course and scope of employment:
- Were you “working” for the employer at the time your injury occurred?
- Were you doing something to benefit the employer?
If you drive to the store during lunch break and get injured in a car accident on the way back, this would not be in the course and scope of employment. However, if while at the store, you also picked up office supplies ordered by your employer, the injuries sustained in the accident may be covered by workers’ compensation.
For an employee to recover under workers’ compensation, s/he needs to be performing something work-related at the time.
The Going and Coming Rule
The Going and Coming Rule prevents employees from qualifying for workers’ comp if an injury happens while commuting to and from work.
IMPORTANT: This rule applies to employees who work in one location. There are other rules for injuries to employees who must travel for work.
The employee is not actually working during the daily commute, so workers’ comp doesn’t apply. If this is your situation, however, you should talk to an attorney. Why? Because the Going and Coming Rule has several exceptions:
Exceptions to the Going and Coming Rule
The Going and Coming Rule highlights several scenarios where getting injured may qualify you for workers’ comp. Even though you’re not directly in the workplace, these situations still count as work-related.
The Vehicle-Use Exception
You may be protected by the vehicle-use exception if your employer required you to drive a company vehicle during the accident. This also applies if the employee’s use of their car provided a benefit to the employer at the time of the accident.
An example would be if you were hurt in a car accident driving a company vehicle to do work-related duties. You were using a special vehicle to travel to a job site, which counts as a job-related duty.
This exception states that an employee is within the course and scope of their employment when performing a special errand as part of their regular duties or as a special request.
An example of the special-errand exception applying would be if the accident happened while performing an errand for your employer.
Work-Related Telephone Calls Exception
An employee may be within the course and scope of his employment while commuting if the employee is talking on a work-related phone call at the time the accident occurred.
How to Prove You’re Within the Course and Scope of Employment
Gather as much evidence as possible for your attorney to prove your actions were within your job’s scope of employment. Avoid downplaying your injuries during this time to maximize your total settlement. It helps if the accident happened during your normal work hours or shift or if you were injured in the workplace.
This can be proven by witness statements, cell phone records, video footage, and other data. Make sure your evidence counteracts the many defenses your employer will use to avoid paying workers’ compensation. Their defenses may include:
- “They were not performing work duties during the time of the accident.”
- “The accident was caused by the plaintiff’s negligence rather than work-related duties.”
- “Their actions are not protected by the Going and Coming Rule.”
Your attorney can help you gather your evidence so these claims won’t get in the way of your workers’ compensation benefits.
Call an Attorney to Create a Workers’ Compensation Claim
A skilled attorney can guide you through the complexities of your state’s employment laws to make sure your rights are protected. A trusted, accomplished employment attorney can answer your questions and help you determine if you have a case.
The best part is most attorneys work under contingency, meaning you won’t pay until your settlement arrives.
LegalASAP’s consultations are always free and don’t obligate you to do anything else. Deciding if and how you want to proceed with your potential case is always 100% up to you.
Ready to see if you may qualify? Complete your free online employment case evaluation now!
Laura Schaefer is the author of The Teashop Girls, The Secret Ingredient, and Littler Women: A Modern Retelling. She is also an active co-author or ghostwriter of several nonfiction books on personal and business development. Laura currently lives in Windermere, Florida with her husband and daughter and works with clients all over the world. Visit her online at lauraschaeferwriter.com and linkedin.com.