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Massachusetts Appellate Court Upholds Award of Benefits to Injured Traveling Employee under Going and Coming Doctrine

If you were injured on the job, the workers’ compensation system in Massachusetts is designed to help provide you with financial support so that you can cope. The benefits are only available if the injury occurred during the course and scope of the employee’s work responsibilities. This raises issues about some of the aspects of working, including going to and from work. One of the biggest disputes that an insurer will raise in some claims involves injuries that happen when an employee is coming or going from work. The seasoned team of Boston workers’ compensation lawyers at Mass Injury Group are prepared to assist you with ensuring that you receive the benefits that you deserve after an on-the-job accident.

In a recent benefits claim, the Massachusetts Court of Appeal was asked to consider the application of the “going and coming doctrine.” In the claim, the worker was employed as a psychiatric nurse when the injury happened. She was living in Massachusetts and was asked by her employer to perform her job at a treatment facility located in Vermont. After each shift totaling five days, she would drive back home. The worker did not ask for travel expenses reimbursement. She said that she did not understand the policy and that she was not required to submit her expenses.

The employee was involved in a car crash while driving back to Massachusetts after a shift. It required substantial rehabilitation and multiple surgeries to address. The insurer objected to her claim for workers’ compensation benefits, arguing that she was not working when the crash took place and therefore it was not a work-related injury. The presiding judge rejected this position and deemed the employer liable for her injuries under workers’ compensation. The insurer filed an appeal, stating that the presiding judge erred in applying the going and coming doctrine to this case.

On review, the appellate court agreed with the presiding judge’s initial ruling. The going and coming rule states that an employer is not liable for injuries when an employee travels to and from a fixed place of employment. But an employer may be liable where the employee must travel as part of his or her job requirements.

One major consideration is whether the employee is provided with a travel allowance or reimbursements. Even if it is a marginal stipend for travel, it tends to suggest that the employee’s injury should be covered. Here, because the employee was required to travel as part of her job and was provided with travel reimbursements, the presiding judge did not err in concluding that the insurer is liable for workers’ compensation benefits and medical expenses reimbursements.

If you were injured at work, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Whether you are simply wanting to learn more about how the system works or begin pursuing your claim, we offer a free consultation to help you understand your rights and how we can assist you. Call our dedicated Boston workers’ compensation lawyers to schedule your appointment at 617-263-0060 or contact us online to get started.

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