The Massachusetts workers’ compensation system is designed to help injured workers cope with the expenses and burden that happens after an on-the-job accident. The benefits program only applies if the injury happened during the course and scope of the employee’s job duties, however. When it comes to accidents that happen while the employee is going to and from work, this can become complicated. One of the biggest issues that can come up in a claim for work injury benefits is whether the employee was on the clock or engaged in a personal activity. Our competent team of Boston work injury lawyers are ready to help you determine if you are entitled to compensation after a work-related accident.
A recent case explores what is referred to as the going and coming doctrine. The employee involved in the claim was working as a psychiatric nurse at the time of her injury according to a contract with a healthcare provider. She lived in Massachusetts and was assigned by her employer to work at a treatment facility in Vermont. She drove home from Vermont at the end of each five-day shift and was under the impression that she was being given expenses for lodging and meals for the five-day period. She did not seek reimbursement for travel expenses because the policy was not clear, according to her, and she did not think she was required to submit expenses.
On the date of the accident, the employee was leaving her five-day shift and driving back to her home in Massachusetts. She was involved in an accident on the way home that required several surgeries and rehabilitation. She suffered serious injuries and had no memory of the crash. She filed for workers’ compensation benefits and the insurer objected on the basis that she was not working at the time of the accident. The lower court judge reviewed evidence regarding the employee and employer relationship and determined that the employer was liable for benefit payments. The insurer appealed on the basis that the employee was not a traveling employee and that the going and coming rule should have barred compensation.