Does Workers’ Compensation Cover an Accident During My Daily Commute?
Few commuter accidents are covered, but some are.
Nebraska’s workers’ compensation system provides benefits for those who are injured in an accident “arising out of” and “in the course of” employment. That is the language used in our statutory law, but does this law cover a person’s daily commute? Just when is a person “working” for purposes of the worker’s compensation statute?
General Rule: No Coverage for Daily Commute
The Nebraska courts have actually considered this question in cases that stretch back to the 1930s. The general rule is that someone injured during their commute is not covered by workers’ compensation benefits. This is the “going to and from work” rule, and our state’s courts have recognized it for over half a century. In a 1961 case, Acton v. Wymore School District, for example, our Supreme Court stated that it was “well established” that injuries sustained going to and from work were not covered.
Exceptions to the Rule
There are many situations in which a worker might be able to claim compensation even if they were commuting to or from work. The key is to show a direct connection between the accident and the employer. Some examples our state’s Supreme Court has already recognized include:
- Dangerous premises. A worker might be injured walking on the employer’s property to get to his or her worksite. For example, a worker might slip and fall while traversing a parking lot or sidewalk to get to their office building. Because your employer has control of the premises, it must provide a safe method of entering and exiting the premises. If the accident happens on public property—such as a public sidewalk—then the worker probably is not covered.
- Commercial traveler. You might have to travel as part of your job. Under our Supreme Court’s interpretation, a commercial traveler is acting in the course of employment for the entire time that they leave their home for the business trip until they return home.
There may be other situations in which a worker could be covered. For example, you might have been running an errand for your employer before heading into work or immediately after work:
- On your way home, you stop at the company bank to make a deposit in the company’s bank account.
- On your way into work, you stop to pick up materials that your company has ordered.
- On your way home, you make a delivery for your employer to a vendor or client.
If you are injured while performing these tasks, then you might be covered under the state’s workers’ compensation laws.
Let Our Omaha Workers Compensation Lawyers Help Analyze Your Case
There are few bright-line rules in this area of law. Everything will depend on the particular facts of the case, including what instructions your employer gave and the reason for the trip. Although accidents during a routine daily commute are typically not covered, your situation could be unique.
Andres Law Offices PC LLO has tackled many workers’ compensation cases, and we would be pleased to meet with you to discuss your case. Please contact us today to schedule an initial consultation with a member of our team.