Home > Defenses, Tactics and Strategy > Going and Coming Rule Fails

Going and Coming Rule Fails

The “going [to work] and coming [from work]” rule is a subject that surfaces now and then in the world of workers’ compensation.  After all, injuries can happen anywhere, so why not while going to or coming from work?

The defense generally provides that an employer is not liable for workers’ compensation benefits for injuries sustained in transit between home and work or work and play.  But the defense is not a stone wall, smooth and solid and impenetrable, but rather a chain-link fence, with plenty of gaps, patches, and weaknesses.

In the case of Jesus Felix Castro v. State of California, Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, applicant was a seasonal firefighter, who sustained a devastating injury as a result of a catastrophic car collision while he was on his way to work.  The attorney for the defense naturally raised the going and coming rule – on the way to work means on the way out of the California workers’ compensation system, generally speaking.

But the defense failed.

Applicant presented several witnesses, Mr. Castro’s co-workers, who testified to the effective requirement of bringing one’s own car to work.  There was more than one fire station to staff, and a firefighter never knew where he or she would end up working that day.  As such, employees had to bring their own car to work to get from Station A to Station B, as necessary.

The workers’ compensation Judge and the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board both held that the injury was compensable.

Bear in mind, learned readers, this holding is not new or off-the-cuff.  This holding was also issued in Smith v. Workmen’s Comp. App. Bd. (1968) “Surely in this day of a highly motorize society we cannot cast the going and coming rule as a protective cloak over the shoulders of the employer who, for his own advantage, demands that the employee furnish the car on the job.”

But this case does serve to remind employers, especially those in the private sector, that there is no such thing as a free lunch – money saved in shifting the cost of the travel between work sites to the employee can cost a lot of money in the form of an otherwise barred workers’ compensation claim.

  1. February 13, 2012 at 10:42 am

    Greg, you are doing a great job with the blog. Keep it up!
    Scott Tilley

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