California may be the Golden State but it can feel like it is the Traffic State. Especially in Southern California, traffic and long car rides can be the most defining feature of Californian life.
In Kern County, the average commute to and from work is 22.9 minutes. That means 260 hours a year spent on California’s roads. For those who commute in to Los Angeles every day, the calculation is even scarier. Those who brave the two-hour journey each day spend 1,040 hours in the car – over 43 days each year.
With so much time spent driving to and from work, accidents inevitably happen. If you are ever involved in an accident on your way to work, you may wonder if an injury sustained during the accident qualifies for worker’s compensation benefits from your employer. Should one of your steps after an accident include a call to your employer’s HR department?
The answer is “it depends.” Typically, time spent commuting is not covered by an employer’s worker’s compensation policy. This follows the “going and coming rule” adopted in California.
However, there are a few notable exceptions. You may have a worker’s compensation claim if:
- The accident happened while you were traveling between job sites. If you checked in to work at one location and traveled to a different location for business-related purposes through the course of your workday, your employer could bear responsibility for an accident that causes you harm.
- The accident occurred while you were driving a company car. Most employers assume liability for any trips that take place in a company-owned vehicle.
- The accident took place when your boss asked you to complete a “special mission” on your way to or from work. If your boss asked you to do something, such as pick up coffee or drop off a package, on your way to or from work, the employer could maintain responsibility for your condition if an accident happens on that trip.
If you suffer an injury during your commute, consider your situation carefully. You may deserve compensation to offset the lost work time and lost wages.