Employee injury or death while traveling to or from work is usually not covered under workers’ compensation insurance, due to the coming and going rule. But what if the employee was killed while on the way to pick up a co-worker to go to an employer-required conference?
Troy McVey worked for TruGreen LandCare in the Austin, TX area as an operations manager. TruGreen provided him with a company truck so he could travel to various work sites to supervise workers who were landscaping.
McVey usually used the truck to travel from his home to the TruGreen office and then to various work sites.
TruGreen had required McVey to attend a multi-day company leadership conference in Houston. On his way to Houston, he’d planned to pick up a co-worker who had also been required to attend the conference and who lived along the way to Houston.
While on the way to the co-worker’s house, McVey was involved in a crash that killed him. The route he was taking happened to overlap with the same route he would have taken to the TruGreen Austin office each morning.
The insurance carrier denied workers’ compensation survivor’s benefits on the grounds that McVey had merely been traveling to work that day and therefore had not been acting within the course and scope of his employment. This exception to workers’ comp coverage is usually referred to as the “coming and going rule.” The case eventually made its way to a state appeals court.
There are exceptions to the coming and going exception. Sometimes, courts have found that injury or death while traveling for work is covered.
One exception is if transportation is furnished or paid for by the employer. McVey was traveling in a company-provided truck.
The appeals court said that it still needed to be shown that McVey’s travel was within the course and scope of his employment.
The Texas Supreme Court has ruled that there is broad leeway given in favor of an injured employee in cases of overnight travel. The conference that McVey was going to attend was scheduled to take place over multiple consecutive days.
For those reasons the appeals court ruled that the coming and going rule didn’t apply in McVey’s case and that he was in the course and scope of employment at the time of the fatal crash.
The court awarded workers’ comp survivor’s benefits to McVey’s widow.
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(Zurich American Insurance Co. v. Beneficiary of Troy McVey, Court of Appeals of TX, No. 03-09-00666-CV, 3/30/11)