The Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act applies to employees’ accidental injuries that arise out of and in the course of employment. However, whether an injury arose out of and in the course of employment is not always clear-cut. For example, although courts generally hold that injuries that occur on the way to work are not compensable, in some cases, those injuries are compensable under the Act.
In a recent case, an employee was injured in a car accident while she was on her way to a work training on a Saturday. She normally did not work on Saturdays but was on her way to a mandatory training. She was originally awarded workers’ compensation benefits, but her employer appealed the decision. Her employer argued that the “going and coming rule” barred her from recovering benefits because she was on her way to work when the accident occurred.
The “Going to/Coming from” Rule
The going to/coming from rule precludes benefit eligibility for injuries occurring when an employee sustains injuries while going to or coming from the employee’s place of employment. Under the rule, these accidents are not considered to “arise out of and in the course of employment,” as required under the Act. The idea is that an employer should not be liable for injuries that arose during an employee’s commute.
There are, however, a number of exceptions to the general rule. In Georgia, some exceptions to the rule are when an employee is injured traveling from one employment premises to another and when the employer provides transportation as incident to the employee’s employment.
The Court’s Decision
In this case, the employee argued that she fell under the “special mission” exception. Under the special mission exception, an employee’s injuries are compensable if the employee was on a “special mission or errand at the request of the employer and in furtherance of the employer’s business,” even if the trip is one that is going to or from the workplace. The court must consider the regularity or unusualness of the trip considering the employee’s normal duties, the difficulty of the trip considering the service to be performed and whether the employee normally worked at that time, and the suddenness of the employee’s call to work.
The court found that the special mission exception could apply in this case. The employee was on her way to a mandatory training on a day that she did not normally work, the training was not a regular training within the context of her job, and it was held at a different location. Therefore, the court allowed the case to continue against the employer.
Contact a Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If you or a loved one has been injured on the job, you may be entitled to Georgia workers’ compensation benefits. The Georgia law office of J. Franklin Burns, P.C. has decades of experience in Georgia workers’ compensation claims. Our Atlanta workers’ compensation attorneys are authorities on Georgia workers’ compensation law, and as former insurance defense attorneys, we understand the other side’s tactics. To learn more about how we can help you obtain workers’ compensation benefits, call us for a free consultation at 404-303-7770 or fill out the contact form on our website.