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Can you get workers’ comp benefits if hurt while commuting?

In Illinois, injured workers are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for injuries suffered on the job or otherwise “in the course of employment.” An injury sustained while clocked in at work is a pretty clear case of eligibility for benefits, but injuries in other contexts are less obvious.

For instance, what if you get injured in a car accident driving to or from work? What if you are injured while driving (or riding as a passenger) for work-related purposes other than commuting? In today’s post, we’ll discuss some of these scenarios and explain what’s known as the “going and coming rule.”

To be sure, driving to and from work is arguably job-related. However, there is a widely accepted rule in Illinois and other states known as the “going and coming” rule, that exempts employers from workers’ compensation liability when employees are injured on their commute to or from work. There are a number of justifications for this, but one argument is that employees are not typically getting paid during this time and are therefore not on the clock.

That being said, there are some important exceptions to the rule. You are likely eligible for workers’ compensation benefits when hurt while traveling in cases where:

  • You are traveling between multiple job sites (usually during the work day)
  • You are traveling on a business trip
  • Traveling is a major aspect of your job (such as commercial driving)
  • You are completing an assignment from your manager (even something simple like picking up coffee and donuts)
  • You are commuting in a company-provided car

As you can see, there are many scenarios in which you could get injured in an auto accident while either commuting or traveling for work purposes. Because these situations represent “gray areas,” it is quite possible that your employer may try to contest the legitimacy of your claim. Therefore, it is a wise investment to work with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney when applying for benefits and/or appealing a denied claim.

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