Under ordinary circumstances, any injuries that employees might suffer while traveling to and from work would not be covered by workers compensation. This is commonly referred to as the "going and coming" rule. There are several common exceptions to this rule, however, and a recent 4-3 decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court illustrates one of those exceptions: the company car. When an employer provides transportation to an employee, injuries occurring during a commute would usually be compensable.
In Wachs v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board, the case involved an employee who was killed while driving to work in a company-supplied car. The car was provided to the worker as part of a compensation contract negotiated at the time that he was hired some seven years prior to his death. The worker's widow was able to secure benefits by providing evidence of this negotiated contract. There was some dissension by the court because the employee's most recent contract did not explicitly address transportation, but the widow prevailed by proving that her deceased husband's employment was contingent on his getting a company car.
Workers compensation laws vary state to state so a contractual exception may not occur in every jurisdiction, but employers should be aware that while details may vary, exceptions based on employer-provided transportation are quite common. This could include a private company car or group transportation via a company-owned vehicle, such as in the case of 14 Guatemalan migrant workers killed in Maine when the company van transporting them to work careened from a bridge into the Allagash River.
There are many other common exceptions to the going and coming rule. We recently discussed a case involving operating premises, and in that post we listed a variety of other exceptions. Here are some additional resources: