On May 17, 2018 the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania declined to extend the “coming and going” rule to cover an electrical worker who sustained substantial injuries in a car accident while driving from home to a job site, despite sporadically receiving compensation for travel expenses. Kush v. Workers’ Comp. Appeal Bd. (Power Contracting Co.), No. 1688 C.D. 2017, 2018 WL 2246523, at *1 (Pa. Commw. Ct. May 17, 2018). The Claimant was employed by two separate corporations doing electrical work, and routinely traveled to different jobs for both employers on the same day. The truck Claimant drove was owned by one of his employer’s, Vantage, but the present claim was against the other employer Power Contracting Company (PCC). Claimant had been working almost exclusively on the same PCC job site for the month preceding the accident.
Claimant sought compensation for medical expenses from PCC for injuries suffered while driving to the same job site after he lost control when driving over an ice patch. The Workers’ Compensation Judge dismissed his claims on the grounds that the “coming and going” rule did not apply to Claimant as he was commuting to a fixed job location. The “coming and going” rule states that injuries sustained by an employee while traveling to and from their place of employment are outside the scope of employment and are generally not compensable. On appeal, Claimant argued that he fell under two exceptions to the “coming and going” rule: he had no fixed place of employment, and his employment agreement included time spent for transportation to and/or from work. On appeal both arguments were rejected by the Court.
The Court emphasized that exceptions for the “coming and going” rule have been narrowly construed and have been fact specific holdings. The Court said that while Claimant may have traveled to different job sites for PCC, for the weeks preceding the accident he had been working at the same site and he anticipated only working at the one site on the day of the accident. The court then found that travel was not included in Claimant’s contract with PCC as his other employer, Vantage, actually owned and provided the truck. PCC did not own or control the Claimant’s means of commute, and while PCC would pay for the gas used to travel to its sites, his wages did not include pay for travel. He was only paid for time spent traveling to pick up equipment for the job by PCC if the pick-up took place on the way to the job. Claimant was not paid for time spent driving home at the end of the day and there were no provisions in his contract covering travel. The Court affirmed the Workers’ Compensation Board’s finding and dismissed Claimant’s petition.
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