Massachusetts Appellate Court Affirms Ruling in Severe Car Accident Claim Involving ‘Going & Coming’ Rule

If you were injured at work, the Massachusetts workers’ compensation system can provide you with benefit payments to replace your lost wages as well as reimbursements for any reasonable and necessary medical expenses that you suffered as a result. For employees who travel, there are many complex doctrines that govern when an employee’s injury will be considered coverable under the workers’ comp system. In many instances, an insurer will attempt to argue that the employee was engaged in personal travel and that the injury, therefore, did not happen as part of his or her employment. A Boston workers’ compensation lawyer can help an injured employee counter these arguments.

One of the doctrines that governs situations where it is unclear whether an employee was working at the time of an accident is the going and coming doctrine. In a recent case, the employee filed a claim while employed as a psychiatric nurse. Although she resided in Massachusetts, she traveled to Vermont to work at a treatment facility. She would stay at a hotel during the week and travel home on the weekends. As part of her employment, she was provided with expenses for lodging and meals. The worker was unclear on how the policy for travel reimbursement worked so she did not submit expenses for her mileage.

She was injured in a car accident while driving home after a five-day shift, resulting in severe injuries that required multiple surgeries and rehab. The accident was so severe that she had no memory of the collision. The insurer for her employer rejected her claim for workers’ compensation benefits on the basis that she was not working at the time of the crash and that she was a traveling employee.

According to the going and coming rule, an employee who travels to and from a fixed place of employment is entitled to compensation for injuries that happen en route. This rule does not apply to traveling employees. The lower court concluded that the worker was not a traveling employee and that she was traveling to and from a fixed place of employment in Vermont. The lower court had reviewed the employment agreement and other evidence in the record and was unable to ascertain a clear agreement between the parties about the worker’s status.

The court found no issue with the fact that the employee failed to comply with a requirement that she notify her employer if she intended to travel home from the assignment. The insurer appealed this finding. On review, the appellate court agreed that the lower court properly chose to forgo applying the going and coming rule.

If you or someone you love was injured in a work-related accident, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. At Mass Injury Group, we offer a free consultation to discuss your situation and whether you are entitled to benefit payments and reimbursements for medical expenses. The workers’ compensation system can be incredibly complex, and the claims process is often lengthy. Let us help you ensure that you receive the fair outcome that you deserve while you heal from your injuries. Call us today at 617-263-0060 or contact us online to get started.