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Are Injuries Sustained During Commute Covered by Workers’ Compensation?

December 22, 2023

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Workers’ compensation is a valuable resource for those who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses, but it's important to note that it may not cover every type of injury or illness that occurs on the job.

One of the most common questions workers have is whether workers’ compensation covers injuries sustained during a commute to or from work. The answer is not always straightforward and may depend on several factors.

If you have been injured in an accident that you believe to be related to your work, seek legal advice from a workers’ compensation lawyer in Cleveland, Ohio.

Workers’ compensation is a system that offers employees benefits if they get injured or sick as a result of performing their duties. Employees may receive benefits for:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Disability benefits
  • Death benefits

In Ohio, workers’ comp operates as a no-fault system. This means that you don’t have to prove fault for your injury to get workers’ comp. Employees receive benefits as long as they can show their injury was work-related.

An injury is generally considered work-related if it arises out of and during your employment. The injury must be related to the nature of your work and must occur while performing your work duties or activities. For example, if a construction worker falls from a scaffold while building a house, any injuries would be considered work-related and thus, covered by workers’ compensation.

Injuries Not Covered by Workers’ Compensation

There are some situations where an injury may not be considered work-related and, therefore, cannot be covered by workers’ compensation. For example, workers’ comp doesn’t cover injuries that occur as a result of:

  • Intentional or willful misconduct on the part of the victim
  • Intoxication or drug use on the part of the victim
  • A personal dispute or altercation with another person that is unrelated to your work
  • A pre-existing medical condition that would not be exacerbated by your work
  • A recreational or social activity that is not part of your work

The Going and Coming Rule

Another common situation where workers’ compensation may not cover an injury is when the injury occurs during the employee’s commute to or from work. This is known as the “going and coming” rule, which states that workers’ compensation does not cover injuries that happen while traveling to or from your place of employment. The rationale behind this rule is that your commute is not part of your work duties and is not under the control or direction of your employer.

For example, workers’ comp may not cover your injury if you drive to work and get into a car accident. Similarly, if you walk to the bus stop after work and slip and fall on the sidewalk, your injury would not be covered by workers’ compensation.

Exceptions to the Rule

Some exceptions to the going and coming rule may allow you to receive workers’ compensation benefits for a commute-related injury. These include:

  • You were traveling in a company-owned or provided vehicle.
  • You were traveling on a special errand or task as part of your official duties.
  • You were traveling between multiple worksites or locations as part of your job.
  • You were traveling as part of your contract or agreement with your employer.
  • You were traveling in a hazardous area that increased your risk of injury.
  • You were injured by a coworker or a third party acting on your employer's behalf.

The exceptions listed above are not exhaustive and may or may not apply depending on your case. Therefore, it is essential to consult with an experienced Ohio workers’ compensation lawyer who can evaluate your situation and determine if you qualify for any of these exceptions.

If you experience an injury and you believe it’s work-related, you should take the following steps as soon as possible:

  1. Notify your employer of the injury.
  2. Seek medical treatment.
  3. File a workers’ comp benefits claim with the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation within one year of the date of injury.
  4. Maintain records of all the bills, wage statements, and other documents related to the injury.
  5. Contact a workers’ compensation lawyer who can help you file your claim.

What Do Worker’s Compensation Benefits Pay?

If your claim is approved, you may receive the following types of benefits:

  • Medical Benefits: These benefits cover reasonable and necessary medical expenses, such as compensation for doctor visits, hospital stays, surgeries, medications, physical therapy, and any other medical costs.
  • Wage Loss Benefits: These benefits replace some of the income you’ve lost due to the injury. These benefits are sub-categorized as temporary total disability (TTD), temporary partial disability (TPD), permanent partial disability (PPD), or permanent total disability (PTD).
  • Death Benefits: These benefits are paid to the surviving dependents if an employee dies due to a work-related injury.

The amount and duration of these benefits will vary depending on the severity and nature of your injury, your average weekly wage, and other factors.

How a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Can Help You

The workers’ comp claim process can be bureaucratic and challenging for the layperson to understand, especially if the employer or BWC denies or disputes the claim. If this happens, you may face difficulties proving that your injury was work-related, obtaining the medical evidence you need, and receiving the full benefits you deserve.

By consulting with a knowledgeable workers’ compensation lawyer, workers can receive guidance on the legal process and how they can protect their rights. An attorney will also help you explore alternatives to workers’ comp, such as personal injury lawsuits against a third party who may have caused or contributed to your injury.

If you have been injured in a work-related accident, do not hesitate to contact Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy. We are a team of dedicated and experienced workers’ compensation lawyers in Ohio who have represented injured workers for over 90 years. We will safeguard your rights and interests and help you get the maximum compensation you deserve.

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