Injury While Commuting To And From Work

Generally, injury occurring while commuting to and from work is not compensable for employees having regular hours and a fixed work location, unless the injury occurs when the employee is on the premises. The argument advanced by employers states that the dangers of commuting to and from work is not in contemplation of the workers’ compensation system.

There are instances however, where commuting to and from work may be covered by workers’ compensation insurance. For example, a company may have a surveillance system that requires a new tape to be placed in a recorder every 8 hours. This requires an employee to make a trip to the company every night near midnight to switch the tape, for which he is paid a fixed amount. The employee may spend an hour commuting to and from work, while spending only a minute to change the tape. It is obvious that commuting is the essential part of the work. In this and similar cases, injury occurring during the entire commute is within the scope of employment and is therefore compensable.

The rule regarding commute ignores the fact that when an employee is injured on his way to work, and before he reaches the employer’s premises, his injury would not have occurred without his duty to arrive to work. Thus, it is arguable that injury during the commute to work does in fact arise out of employment because that commute is an essential part of the job.