Maryland Workers’ Compensation and the Going and Coming Rule
The Maryland Court of Appeals recently decided a workers’ compensation case that revolved around an employee’s commute to an offsite training. The employee sustained an accidental injury during the commute and sought assistance through workers’ compensation programs.
Workers’ compensation laws exist to protect employees when they sustain an injury at the workplace or while performing work duties. But the accident must arise out of and in the course of employment. Otherwise, workers’ compensation laws do not apply to that particular injury.
Over time, however, the Maryland courts have established certain boundaries on workers’ compensation claims. One such limitation deals with an employee’s commute to and from work — referred to legally as the “going and coming rule.”
The Going and Coming Rule
The “going and coming rule” is an important restriction on workers’ compensation in Maryland. This rule addresses injuries sustained while going to or coming from work. Specifically, the Maryland courts have determined that these accidental injuries do not arise in the course of employment. As a result, workers’ compensation is not available to employees who get hurt traveling to or from work.
That being said, there is an exception to the going and coming rule for special missions and errands.
The Special Mission or Errand Exception
The special mission or errand exception refers to special requests in the employment context. If the employer asks the employee to handle a special mission or errand — that is particularly inconvenient, hazardous or urgent — then it may fall within the course of employment. This applies even if the employee handles the special mission or errand while traveling to work.
In deciding whether to apply the special mission or errand exception, the Maryland courts rely on three factors:
- Regularity — Does the special mission or errand fall within the scope of the employee’s regular duties?
- Convenience — How convenient was it for the employee to complete special mission or errand?
- Urgency — Did the employer request the special mission or errand in a sudden or urgent manner?
Offsite Training Qualifies as a Special Mission
After applying the factors for a special mission or errand, the Maryland Court of Appeals determined that offsite training qualifies for the exception. Specifically, the court held that:
- The employee was required to attend the training on her day off;
- The training was not conducted at the employee’s usual worksite; and
- The employee did not have to attend similar trainings on a regular basis.
In summary, the going and coming rule did not apply to this employee’s situation. And the employee could pursue a workers’ compensation claim. As a result, the Maryland Court of Appeals reversed the previous decision and sent the case back to trial.
Let Us Help You with Your Case
If you sustained an accidental injury in the course of employment in Maryland, it can be thoroughly beneficial to consult with an adept workers’ compensation attorney. The attorneys at Iamele & Iamele, LLP in Baltimore, Maryland, have many years of combined legal experience with workers’ compensation disputes. If you need legal help, contact us today for a free initial consultation.