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Does employer-encouraged carpooling warrant benefit claims?

We frequently discuss the fact that if you are a covered employee who is injured in the course of your work on the job, then you are likely eligible for workers' compensation benefits. In the past, we've even discussed how that relates to employees who are driving at the time they are injured, such as employees who are making deliveries as part of their job functions. But what happens if you are driving to or from work when you are injured?

In most cases, those injuries won't be covered under workers' compensation -- even if your employer encouraged you to take part in carpooling efforts. One estate brought just such a claim to court after a person was killed in an accident when carpooling home. According to reports, the person was hired through a labor agency that encouraged workers to ride together. Because the employer didn't specifically arrange the rides, the cars involved were privately owned and the workers weren't on the job at the time of the accident, courts ruled that no workers' comp benefits were payable.

Generally speaking, no matter how you are getting to or from work -- whether via your own car, a friend's vehicle or public transportation -- you are off the clock and workers' compensation isn't a factor. Exceptions do exist to this rule, though. If an employer takes on the responsibility of getting employees too and from work, then coverage might still apply. For example, if a manager comes to get you because he or she needs you to fill a shift and you have no other way of getting to work, then you might be crossing a line where workers' compensation is possible.

As with any workplace injury, transportation injury cases can be complex. Consider speaking with a workers' compensation lawyer to understand how you might be covered and what type of claim to file.

Source: HR Morning, "Employee killed in work carpool: Should benefits be paid?," Christian Schappel, accessed June 03, 2016

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