Question

I was just about to leave work for the day when my employer asked me to deliver some parts to a customer. I told him that I did not want to because the delivery was not in the direction I was heading. I also told him that I had already punched out for the day. He told me that he would pay me for my time, so I finally said okay. On my way to deliver the parts, I was involved in an accident in which I was injured rather seriously. I reported this to my employer and requested information about filing a workers’ compensation claim. He told me that I could not file a claim and that my injuries were not compensable under the workers’ compensation laws because the accident occurred while I was not at work. Is he right?

Answer:

The answer to your question depends largely on whether or not the accident occurred during the course of your employment. Whether the accident occurred during the course of employment is determined by the time, place, and circumstances under which the accident occurred. One of the rules created by courts to assist in establishing whether an injury occurred within the course of employment is the going and coming rule. This rule bars an employee from receiving workers’ compensation benefits for injuries experienced by an employee while traveling to and from his or her workplace. Evidently, courts have concluded that the employment relationship is temporarily suspended while the employee is away from the workplace, and therefore, injuries occurring when an employee is engaged in travel off the employer’s property are not within the “course of employment” for purposes of workers’ compensation

However, several exceptions to this rule have been recognized by the courts in California, one of which probably applies to your situation. This exception is called the special mission or special errand exception and has been loosely defined as a business excursion taken by an employee at the behest and request of the employer. An injury suffered by an employee while performing such a special mission or errand is a compensable injury under the workers’ compensation laws of California. This exception exists any time an injury is sustained by an employee performing a special mission or errand for his employer. Thus, under this exception, an injury sustained by an employee during his or her regular commute to and from work is compensable under the Worker’s Compensation laws, if the employee was also performing a special mission or special errand for his or her employer.

In your case, a court would likely conclude that delivering parts to one of your employer’s customers on the way home from work would meet the requirements under the special errand and/or special mission exception to the going and coming rule. Thus, your injuries should be covered by workers’ compensation
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Back to Menu- Work Place Law 2005 Articles