I Was Injured Commuting to or From Work. Am I Covered Under the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Act?
The general rules is, you will not be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if you were commuting to or from work at the time you were injured; however, there are a few exceptions to this rule.
In Minnesota, the general rule is that workers’ compensation benefits are available to employees who sustain injuries “while engaged in, on, or about the premises where the employee’s services require the employee’s presence as a part of that service at the time of the injury and during the hours of that service.” Minn. Stat. § 176.011, subd. 16.
One exception to what is often referred to as the “coming and going” rule is the responsibility of the employer to provide its employees with a safe ingress to or egress from the employment premises. To fall within this exception, an employee must show that the injured occurred within the following criteria:
1) Before or after the workday
2) On an area that is considered a party of the employer’s premises
3) Within a customary route of ingress and egress
For example, if an employee falls, and is injured due to snow and ice the employer’s parking lot a few minutes after clocking out, this injury would likely be compensable. If the same injury occurred on the state-owned sidewalk in front of the employer’s premises, this injury would likely not be compensable.
One other factor that courts take into consideration is whether the employee was “engaged in activity reasonably incidental to her employment” at the time of the injury. For example, if a bartender clocks out but chooses to “hang out” at the bar, have drinks and socialize for an hour before leaving and sustaining an injury in the employer’s parking lot, this would not be a compensable injury because the employee was no longer engaged in an activity reasonably incidental to his or her employment.
The second exception to the “coming and going” rule is employer-furnished transportation. When the employer regularly furnishes transportation to employees to and from the place of employment, and the employee is injured during transport, the employee’s injury is compensable under Minnesota workers’ compensation laws.
The third exception to the “coming and going” rule is travel between two work places. One of these work sites could be the employee’s home if a portion of the employee’s work is performed at home. Therefore, situations may arise in which an injury that occurs during the trip between the employee’s home and his employer’s premises falls within the scope of workers’ compensation coverage. The most important factor when analyzing this exception is whether the employee’s conduct at the time he or she sustained an injury was connected with the demands or obligations of his or her employment.
Lastly, if the employment requires travel, injuries sustained by the employee may be compensable if the injury occurs in the course of a business trip. The portion of this exception that is often the subject litigation is: “What does it mean to be in the course of a business trip?” To prove an employee was in the course of a business trip, the employee must show that the trip furthered the employer’s interest, the employee received complete or partial reimbursement for travel expenses or the employee received wages for the time spent traveling. However, if the employee deviates from the employer’s business during the course of the trip and engages in a “personal mission,” workers’ compensation benefits can be denied. An example of a personal mission is visiting a romantic partner or watching the football game at a bar for recreational purposes.
Don’t wait to get an attorney involved if you have a Minnesota workers’ compensation claim. As this article illustrates, this area of the law is nuanced and complex. The attorneys at Meuser Law Office, P.A. will help ensure that you receive all the benefits to which you’re entitled. Contact Meuser Law Office, P.A. for a free no-obligation consultation and claim evaluation. Call us today at 1-877-746-5680.