Today's post comes from guest author Thomas Domer, from The Domer Law Firm.
The Kansas Supreme Court has just reversed a State Appeals Court finding that an oil field worker was not entitled to worker’s compensation benefits after he was injured while riding home from his workplace. The case is David C. Williams v. Petromark Drilling, LLC and Ace Fire Underwriters Ins. Co. The Court reasoned that the nature of field work where an employee has no permanent place of employment but must travel from place to place to perform his duties was an exception to the “Coming and Going” rule. That rule in most State Statutes indicates an employee is not entitled to worker’s compensation while coming to work or going home from work.
In Wisconsin case law and statutory provisions have extended coverage to the employer’s designated parking lot, travel between the parking lot and employer’s premises, injury off premises from a “spilled over danger” and commuting to work in an employer-provided vehicle used from time to time for job duties. Wisconsin courts have etched away at the “Coming and Going” exclusion. While a typical commute is not covered until the worker reaches the company parking lot, if the employer pays wages for the travel time or commute (“on the clock”), an injury during the trip is compensable. The worker is also covered during the entirety of a special errand or overtime trip required by or for the benefit of the employer. Also, where the use of a company truck was a “substantial part of the employment contract” a worker killed while commuting to work was found to be in the course of employment. An argument can be made that an employee commuting to work should be covered if required by job duties to have access to the car while at work, even if not compensated for the expense of commuting.
Wisconsin’s Commission and Courts have also wrestled with the distinction between a “traveling employee” who receives statutorily broad coverage, and a regular commuter whose trip to work is barred by the “Coming and Going” rule.