If you are a member of the Oklahoma workforce, you will likely find comfort in knowing that your employer has workers’ compensation insurance that will cover your medical expenses and lost wages in the event of an on-the-job accident. You might qualify for compensation even if your injury occurs away from your work site. As long as your activities are work-related, you can claim benefits. This means that even while on a team-building exercise or a company-sponsored afternoon at the bowling alley, any injury you suffer will be compensable.
However, a misconception exists when it comes to traveling to and from work. The workers’ compensation system has a going and coming rule that excludes coverage of any injuries resulting from accidents that occur at these times.
What if travel is job-related?
You may argue that your commute to and from work is job-related, but workers’ compensation insurance does not cover it. Nevertheless, the following are some of the exceptions that exist under which your traveling times may be work-related and therefore excluded from the going and coming rule:
- Business trips: If your travels are of a commercial nature, insurance coverage will apply for the entire time — even if your actual business dealings or conference sessions last for only a certain amount of time each day.
- Traveling is your primary job: If you are a driver, such as a bus or truck driver, a state trooper or a pilot, your driving shift will be covered, but not traveling to and from work in your private vehicle.
- Additional tasks: Any special mission that your employer gives you is job-related. This may include instances such as an order to stop at the coffee shop on your way to work in your private vehicle.
- Working at different job sites: If you use your personal vehicle to travel to different job sites, you will qualify for benefits. This will apply if you are a sales representative, computer technician, landscaper or other job in which you travel to do your job.
- Using a company vehicle: If your commute to work and back is in a company vehicle, workers’ compensation benefits may apply if you suffer injuries in an accident. State laws may come into play, and it might specify that you have to travel to and from a fixed destination. Driving a vehicle bearing the company’s logo — and advertising as you go — might be a valid argument for your travels to be job-related.
If you have questions about your rights to benefits and the going and coming rule after suffering injuries while driving, you may get answers from an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. If a lawyer determines that you should receive compensation, he or she can assist with the benefits claim process or an appeal after a rejected claim.