For most businesses, workers’ compensation is a major concern and often a major expense. It’s complicated to figure out what injuries are “work-related” in each state in which you do business, and you may spend hours with your carriers trying to determine whether a particular individual and the specific injury are covered or not.
As a first step, the injury must be “in the zone,” that is, within the employer’s premises, which includes the facilities, parking lot and sidewalks owned or controlled by the employer. For example, when you’re walking from your car to the door in the employer-owned parking lot, then you fall on wet leaves or snow and ice, your injury “arose out of and in the course of employment.” On the other hand, if you commute on mass transit and fall in the parking lot at the train station while on your way to work, your injury isn’t work related.
The issue is more complicated with a service business whose employees have no fixed place of work—think the cable technician. The technician is considered a “traveling employee” with no fixed place of work. What happens when the technician is hurt driving to the company facility or to a customer’s location? Is the injury work related?
The answer is a solid “maybe.” Some recent Pennsylvania cases focused on just this issue, and the debate over when a traveling employee fits the coming and going rule. For a detailed analysis, see “Recent Workers’ Compensation Cases Focus on ‘Going and Coming’ Rule.”