Work-related injuries in Illinois are compensable to employees under two conditions:
- The injury occurred in the scope of employment;
- The injury arose out of the course of employment.
Injuries that happen on one's work commute, however, are generally not deemed compensable, because courts have generally ruled that they do not satisfy the second prong. Specifically, one's employer isn't deriving a benefit from the commute, so the commute isn't considered within the scope of employment because it's not part of the ordinary course of one's work.
But as our Peru workers' compensation attorneys can explain, this principle—known as the "coming-and-going rule"—is not absolute. There are numerous exceptions to the coming-and-going rule, so one should not assume an injury isn't covered by workers' compensation benefits just because it happened on the way to or the way home from work.
Many employees are wrongly denied workers' compensation because they were "off the clock," when in reality, their actions were in some way benefiting the employer and did arise out of the course and scope of employment.
Determining whether you are entitled to compensation requires the experience of a dedicated work injury lawyer. In some cases, you may also have grounds to pursue a third-party liability claim against an at-fault driver or others who may have been negligent.
What is Coming-and-Going Rule in Illinois?
The first thing to understand is that the coming-and-going rule is generally in place for those who work at a fixed place of employment. Workers who travel—such as home health nurses or cable installation workers—may have their injuries covered because traveling to and from various locations is part of the job.
This "traveling employee" rule also may apply if you have to travel overnight for business, and it might even cover you for injuries incurred during "down time," while not actually traveling.
Other Exceptions to Coming and Going
- Parking lot injuries. We see a lot of cases wherein employees are injured in the parking lot, be it due to a slip-and-fall or a violent attack. Whether injuries are compensable will depend on whether the site was under the ownership and/or control of the employer. So for example, if you trip and fall in the employee parking lot, you are more likely to receive benefits than if you park in a public lot.
- Employer transportation. If your employer provides you with a vehicle to take home in the evenings, injuries incurred coming from or going to work may be considered compensable.
- Special mission. If your boss sends you out for coffee or to pick up the dry cleaning or a cake for a co-worker, this would be considered a "special mission." Even if you were asked to do it on your way into the office, it could still be considered "in the course and scope of employment."
- Special circumstances. These would be cases that show the worker was acting in the furtherance of the employer.
You should know that Illinois courts have applied many of these exceptions liberally, and have awarded benefits under a wide range of circumstances. If you have been injured, our attorneys will be on your side throughout the process, fighting to ensure you receive the benefits to which you are entitled.