With few exceptions, most New York employers purchase workers’ compensation insurance to provide benefits to employees who suffer injuries on the job. If you are involved in a workplace accident that results in injuries, your employer’s insurance may cover your expenses, such as medical bills, or help to replace lost wages if you have to take time off during recovery. There are certain issues that may cause you to be ineligible for workers’ comp benefits.
For instance, most, if not all, states have “coming and going” rules that affect eligibility regarding workers’ compensation. It’s important to understand these rules ahead of time to avoid the confusion that may arise if you go to file a workers’ comp claim and determine that the circumstances in which the accident occurred do not cover your injuries.
“Coming and going” rules regarding commuting to work
If you are involved in a motor vehicle collision on your way to or from work, it doesn’t automatically mean that any injuries you suffer will be covered by your employer’s workers’ comp insurance. In fact, in New York and most other states, if you were driving your own car to or from the workplace when the collision occurred, it may legally qualify as “your own time,” which means your employer’s insurance would not have to provide benefits.
This is a complex area of law, however. It’s imperative that you seek clarification of the “coming and going” rules in this state before determining whether or not you should file a workers’ compensation claim. In certain circumstances, such as if your employer provided your transportation, and you were driving or traveling as a passenger in a company vehicle when a collision occurred, you might be eligible for workers’ comp benefits.
Special deliveries, work assignments and company parties
If you trip and fall in your workplace office and suffer a broken foot, a logical response is to file a workers’ compensation claim. What if, however, you fell and broke your foot while playing softball at a company-sponsored picnic? Or, perhaps, you were “coming or going” to make a special delivery during the workday that your employer requested as part of your duties that day.
This is where legal issues can be complex and confusing for someone without a background in workers’ compensation laws. In such cases, it’s helpful to seek additional support from someone who is well-versed in such issues, rather than try to figure things out on your own.
Don’t lose hope if your employer or an insurance agency denies your claim
Many New York employees have had their initial workers’ comp claims denied by their employers or insurance agencies acting on behalf of their employers. If this happens to you, you’ll be glad to know that there’s an appellate system in place, and many recovering workers have obtained claims approval on appeal.
If you have questions about “coming and going” rules or other aspects of the workers’ compensation program, it’s always best to tap into local resources to find answers before navigating the system.