Workers’ compensation, like other areas of law, has a dizzying array of rules and exceptions that may not be directly written out in the Labor Code or other areas of California statutes. Instead, these rules may have been created through the courts and can only be found in case law. One such rule is called the “Coming and Going Rule.” This rule is based on a simple principle: an employee who is injured during the regular commute to or from work may not recover for his or her injuries under workers’ compensation. Similarly, a person injured by the employee during that commute may not seek to recover for the injuries against the employer. The reasoning behind the rule is that the employee is not acting within his or her scope of employment during a normal commute. During that time, the employee is not performing a service for the employer, and the employer is not receiving a benefit from the employee’s actions. Accordingly, the employee is not acting within the scope of his or her employment, and any injury sustained is therefore not work-related for the purposes of workers’ compensation.
Like any other area of law, there are exceptions to the “going and coming rule.” One such exception is called the “required vehicle exception” and is illustrated by a case called Betts v. YMCA of the East Valley (2015 Cal. Wrk. Comp. P.D. LEXIS 248). There, the worker was injured while driving from the main YMCA office to her own remote work site. The WCAB determined that the going and coming rule did not apply because an express condition of the claimant’s employment was to use her own vehicle to travel between the office and the remote site, and she was paid mileage for these trips.
Another exception is called the “Personal Comfort Exception.” In an illustrative case, an employee was injured in a car accident. The employee had gone to a convenience store to buy cigarettes during his shift, and had offered to buy snacks for coworkers while there. Trips to this store were condoned by the employer. The personal comfort exception applied to allow the injured worker to apply for workers’ compensation benefits because the worker had the employer’s permission, and also the employer received the benefit of the other employees remaining at work while the injured employee retrieved snacks on their behalf.
The “coming and going rule” is just one example of the nuanced regulations that surround workers’ compensation. If you have questions about workers’ compensation, let me answer them. Call me today at (714) 252-7078 to discuss your business.