Safety and OSHA News

Is this an exception to workers’ comp coming-and-going rule?

A home health aide was involved in a highway crash on the way to a patient’s home. Would workers’ comp cover her injuries?

Karen Mackey was driving from her home to a patient’s when her car slid on some ice and went off the road.

When Mackey got out of her car, another vehicle slid off the road, hitting her.

She suffered serious injuries to her ribs, knee and back. She filed a workers’ comp claim.

Her employer objected, saying her injuries didn’t occur in the course and scope of her employment.

Mackey relied on an established exception to the coming-and-going rule that says workers won’t receive workers’ comp benefits if they’re injured on the way to or from work.

The exception: if the employee has no fixed place of work.

Specifically, Mackey pointed to a previous decision in which an employee of a nursing agency was injured in a car crash while traveling to the workplace assigned to her by her employer. That worker received workers’ comp benefits.

However, the workers’ comp judge, appeal board and appeals court all found that the two cases were different, and Mackey shouldn’t receive benefits.

The nurse who received benefits in the previous case was regularly assigned to different clients. But Mackey had been assigned to the same client for 18 months.

For that reason, the court said Mackey’s assignment didn’t qualify for the “no fixed place of work” exception.

The narrow exception in Pennsylvania depended entirely upon whether the agency worker had long-term or short-term assignments. What do you think about that? Let us know in the Comments Box below.

Cite: Mackey v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board, Commonwealth Court of PA, No. 1903 C.D. 2009, 2/17/10 (PDF).

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  1. No, it’s just like going to work. you didn’t start yet or were you there yet. Was she in a company vehicle? But she does have a case of suing the party that hit her for loss of work time and injuries.

  2. I’m not sure. We have a construction company and sometimes work out of town and stay over night. I have been paying the guy’s travel one way at the begining of the work week. I suppose i’m on the hook if something happens even if they are in their own vehicle whether or not coming or going to the project site.

  3. I do know that some home care nurses are considered “on the clock” when they travel to and from the patients homes. This story doesnt reveal if she was or not. If so she should have been covered. If not, then it is the same as all the rest of us going to work and back. That’s what car insurance is for. I am sorry for her injuries though and hope she has a speedy recovery.

  4. you know the employer requires the employee too have a car too do the type of work that moves the employee from job too job so the employee should be covered

  5. The reasoning our company utilizes for employees leaving from their home and required to travel to a customer or business either in a company vehicle or a personal vehicle is the first customer they visit and the last visit before returning home are considered commuting. All business stops in between are considered business travel and covered by workers’ comp.

  6. This is why so many jobs go offshore. I realize, nursing cannot, but attitudes in court often send strong signals to stay out of the USA if possible, as lawyers mainly exist to legally rob you with the asssistance of the courts, manned by other lawyers!
    And it is said that the lawyers police them selves? Ha!!!!
    If you own a business, you know exactly what I am talking about!!

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