Massachusetts Appellate Court Upholds Workers’ Compensation Benefits Award for Car Accident Victim based on Traveling Employee Doctrine

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.

The reviewing court ultimately agreed with the lower court. It reviewed the going and coming rule, which provides compensation for injuries that happen when an employee travels to and from a fixed single place of employment. This rule does not apply to traveling employees, however. The appellate court rejected the insurer’s suggestion that the employee had a fixed place of employment at the Vermont facility and found instead that she was a traveling employee.

If you were hurt at work, including on the way to or from work as a traveling employee, you may be entitled to compensation. At Pulgini & Norton, we understand how overwhelming this experience can be and how difficult it is to know whether your rights are being protected. Our seasoned team of Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyers is standing by to answer your questions in a free consultation. Call us now at 781-843-2200 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.

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