I travel to different worksites during the day. Would I be eligible for workers’ comp if I'm injured in a car accident between sites?

Fixed situs employees workers' compensationIt all depends. In Ohio, if your work duties don't begin until you reach a specific work location designated by your employer, you're not covered for injuries sustained while traveling to or from that location. This is known as the “coming and going” rule, and it applies to all “fixed-situs” employees.

Most workers who travel between work sites are considered fixed-situs employees in Ohio, but there may be exceptions.

Are You Considered a Fixed-Situs Worker?

Some workers are clearly fixed-situs employees. For example, if you work in an office, restaurant, or store like Walmart, and your duties don't begin until you enter the building, you're a fixed-situs employee. If you're in a car accident on your way to work, or fall in the parking lot outside your building, your injuries probably won't be covered by workers’ comp under the coming and going rule. However, there are several situations where offsite injuries are covered by Ohio workers' comp.

You're clearly a non-fixed-situs employee if your duties aren't tied to a fixed location. For example, if you drive a truck for UPS, an ambulance for MedCare, or a taxicab for Express Cab, your worksite is your vehicle and the places you visit as part of your job. If you're in a car accident or have a bad fall while on the clock, your injuries should be covered by workers’ comp.

It gets trickier when we look at workers whose jobs require them to be at different locations throughout the day, or from one day or week to the next. Construction workers, home health care aides, repair technicians, housekeepers, and similar workers report to various locations to complete their job duties. It may seem like this would give these employees the non-fixed-situs designation, but Ohio courts sometimes determine otherwise.

Even though these workers don't report to the same physical location every shift, they're usually not on the clock until they arrive at their designated location. Because of this, they're subject to the coming and going rule. If injured in a car accident while traveling between work sites, they are typically ineligible for workers’ comp–but, again, there are exceptions.

If a worker is paid for travel time or reimbursed for travel expenses, it could be argued they're performing work duties and on the clock while driving from one site to another and, if injured during travel, they may be eligible for workers’ comp.

Confusing? Call Me to Explain

If you find this confusing, welcome to the club! The Industrial Commission and Ohio courts seemingly can rule one way one day and another way the next given the very same set of facts. These cases are very fact-specific and decisions can turn on nuances. Employers and the BWC are quick to deny such claims even when they're legitimate. If you have questions whether you're subject to the coming and going rule, it's worth your time at least to consult with an Ohio workers’ comp attorney. This can be a complicated issue even for experienced lawyers and judges, and you deserve to understand your rights as an employee.

When you call Monast Law Office, you can get answers to your workers’ compensation questions. We also invite you to download a complimentary copy of our book, The Worker’s Guide to Injury Compensation in Ohio to learn more.

 

James Monast
Fighting for Ohio’s Injured Workers and their Families