Florida Court Narrows Coming-And-Going Rule
A worker who was traveling to a jobsite with work supplies, and had been partially reimbursed for gas money, was ineligible for workers’ compensation benefits, according to the First District Court of Appeals in Tallahassee.
The victim, who worked for DSK, an employee-leasing company, was on his way to a construction site when a drunk driver hit him. The victim was an hourly employee who received a monthly gas allowance, which indicated that traveling was part of his job description. Additionally, the victim was carrying job-related materials which he was to drop off at the worksite. Nevertheless, the Court of Appeals concluded he wasn’t entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. “It seems to me the court went out of its way to avoid paying this guy compensation,” a retired workers’ compensation judge remarked.
Another observer applauded the decision. “The days of ‘some employer material’ in claimant’s car or truck, or ‘a different worksite daily’ constituting going and coming exceptions are over,” he remarked.
Work-Related Car Crashes
Every year, vehicle collisions kill or seriously injure millions of people. Today’s vehicles are so big and so fast that these accidents cause injuries like:
- Head Injuries: The motion before impact, as opposed to an impact itself, often causes a collision-related head injury. This motion causes the brain to slam violently and repeatedly against the insides of the skull.
- Broken Bones: Many car crash victims sustain broken leg and arm bones. Most restraint systems don’t protect these extremities. Typically, doctors have to use metal components to reconstruct these bones. That invasive surgery means extended physical therapy.
- Internal Injuries: The aforementioned excessive motion also causes internal organs to grind and mash against each other. Since these internal organs have no protective skin layers, they usually bleed badly. This internal bleeding is hard to spot and even harder to stop.
The medical bills alone in such cases usually exceed $50,000. The average expense could almost double if, as is often the case, a victim required helicopter medevac.
Most families live paycheck to paycheck. They can’t possibly pay such bills. So, a Tampa workers’ compensation attorney often connects victims with top-notch doctors who charge nothing upfront for their professional services. So, these victims get the treatment they need, as opposed to the treatment they can afford or the treatment a stingy insurance adjuster will approve.
The general rule in workers’ compensation claims is that injuries incurred while the victim is coming from work or going to work are not covered by workers’ compensation.
Exclusionary rules like this one are increasingly controversial today, in the age of instant communication. If the boss sends an urgent email, the boss usually expects an immediate response, even if the recipient is on vacation, driving home from work, or about to cross the street. The biggest exception to the coming-and-going rule requires victims to show:
- Traveling Employee: The legal definition of a traveling employee is rather vague. Usually, this phrase means an employee whose job description includes daily, or at least weekly, travel. Delivery drivers are traveling employees. Workers who temporarily fill such roles usually aren’t covered.
- Scope of Employment: This prong is more straightforward. Any act which benefits the employer in any way is usually within the scope of employment.
Workers’ compensation usually pays no-fault benefits that replace lost wages and pay the aforementioned medical bills, as long as these expenses are reasonably necessary.
If workers’ comp doesn’t cover the injury, most victims may file claims in civil court. Compensation is available if these victims prove the other driver was negligent. Basically, negligence is a lack of care.
Connect With a Dedicated Hillsborough County Attorney
Injury victims are entitled to important financial benefits. For a free consultation with an experienced Florida workers’ compensation lawyer, contact Kobal Law. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these cases.