The general rule for workers’ compensation claims is that the work-related injury or illness that is the source of the benefits claim must be connected with the worker’s employment. Courts in West Virginia have interpreted this requirement to generally exclude injuries to workers who are traveling to or from work and not on the premises of the employer under what has become known as the “coming and going rule.”
The basis of the rule is that an employee who is traveling to or from work is exposed to the same risks as those of the public in general, and which are not risks placed on the employee by the employer. Therefore, any risk of injury to the worker under these circumstances is not compensable under workers’ compensation. Court cases have also held that activities like walking across a street during a lunch break and being injured while doing so fall under the coming-and-going rule.
The coming-and-going rule is not absolute. There are some recognized exceptions, such as when the location where the worker’s injury happened was effectively brought into the “scope of employment” be an express or implied requirement in his or her employment contract. Whether this exception applies is not a bright-line rule of law, but rather depends on the specific facts and circumstances of each case. Other exceptions to the rule include situations where the employee is injured while traveling on behalf of the employer’s business, and the “special errand” exception, which holds that an employee’s travel away from the place of employment, is at the employer’s behest.
If you have been injured while engaged in travel to or from your work location, and you believe that the travel had a connection to your duties as an employee, an attorney experienced with West Virginia workers’ compensation law and how courts in this state have interpreted it can assist you in determining whether the coming-and-going rule — or one of its exceptions — applies to you.