Let’s assume the following facts: An employee works for a construction company based in Atlanta, Georgia; he is assigned to a construction project in Alabama; his employer is not reimbursing the employee for time and travel in the employee’s personal car to the remote location; on his way home to Atlanta on a Friday afternoon at 6:15 p.m. he is injured in a car accident. Can the employee receive workers’ compensation benefits for his injuries and lost time resulting from the car accident?
Under the above facts, NO, the employee cannot receive workers’ compensation benefits for his injuries and his lost time resulting from the car accident. Generally, for an employee to be eligible to collect workers’ compensation benefits the employee must sustain injuries arising out of and in the course of employment. In other words, the employee must be performing duties related to his job and under the control of his employer when he sustains the injuries.
The employee was traveling to and from a remote location, however, it is well established that injuries sustained while an employee is traveling to and from work are not compensated under the Workers’ Compensation Act.
In our situation:
- the employee’s job duties were done;
- the employee had departed the job site; and
- the employee was not acting in furtherance of the employer’s business.
The accident did NOT arrive out of and in the course of employment. Therefore, the employee was not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits to cover his injuries and any time that he could not work.
Let’s change up some of the facts: the employee is driving a car owned by the employer and the employer is paying for room and board while the employee is working in the remote location in Alabama. The employee is injured in a car accident on the way to Alabama from his home in Atlanta late Sunday afternoon. Now is the employee eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits for his injuries and lost time resulting from the car accident?
Under the new facts, there is a strong argument that the employee will be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Pursuant to a recent ruling, “continuous employment” may be applied if an employer requires an employee to lodge and work within a specific geographic area so the employee is available for work on the employer’s job site. This applies to traveling employees because they are exposed to the hazards of highway and hotels while traveling for work in a remote location.
With the application of the new facts, the employee’s personal time ends when the traveling employee must return to his lodging or work site. His continuous employment now makes him eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
For more information on these scenarios or to discuss your case with an attorney, please contact us.