Workers Compensation Going and Coming Rule
Fortunately, almost every business in Kansas will provide workers' compensation benefits for employees who are injured or fall ill on the job. There are, however, certain restrictions and exclusions. For instance, if the injury, or death, on the job is self-inflicted or is caused by the employee’s intoxication through drugs or alcohol, the employer is not liable and compensation to the employee likely will be denied.
In addition to outright exclusions, employees often misunderstand the scope of workers' compensation coverage in Kansas. What happens if, for example, a worker is injured on the way to work, or on the way home? Is that covered? The answer is no.
On the flip side, what if the employee is conducting business for the employer using his or her vehicle and is injured, will that be covered? Most likely, it would be.
The workers' compensation attorneys at Wichita-based Slape & Howard handle employee claims and appeals throughout the state. With the enactment of the Kansas Workers Compensation Act (KWCA) of 2011, filing and proving a claim became more challenging. The KWCA shifted the odds more in favor of employers and their workers' compensation insurance providers and made it far more difficult for employees to obtain the full range of benefits they deserve. If you find yourself facing hurdles in getting the workers' compensation benefits you deserve, contact Slape & Howard immediately.
The Workers Compensation Going and Coming Rule
In Kansas, traveling to and from your place of work is not covered under workers' compensation and what is called its “Going and Coming Rule.”
A section of the state statute covering workers' compensation, found under K.S.A. 44-508, pertains to the rule, and to other incidents that may also not be covered. This section contains the phrase “arising out of and in the course of employment,” and it specifically declares:
“The words ‘arising out of and in the course of employment as used in the workers' compensation act shall not be construed to include injuries to the employee occurring while the employee is on the way to assume the duties of employment or after leaving such duties, the proximate cause of which injury is not the employer's negligence.”
This means that one’s routine commute to and from work is not covered by workers' compensation. However, if your vehicle operation arises “out of and in the course of employment,” it should be covered. If driving is part of your occupational duties – say you’re a bus driver or delivery person – workers' compensation should be available.
What if your employer asks you to go run an errand that is essential to the business—for instance, to pick up a needed replacement part for an office machine or other equipment used in the operation of the business? That request places the required commute into the realm of “arising out of” and “in the course of employment,” so you should be covered if you get injured.
Injured at An Optional Company Event?
Here’s another situation, one over which the courts disagreed in 2013. What if you’re injured while at a company event that is optional to attend—a picnic, for instance?
In Douglas v. Ad Astra Information Systems, a worker who was injured while operating a go-cart for a company outing sued to obtain workers' compensation, and the court ordered that he be awarded benefits. The Court of Appeals upheld the award, but when it got to the Kansas Supreme Court, the earlier rulings were reversed.
The Supreme Court held that workers' compensation does not apply when there is no duty to attend the event, and when the injury results neither from performing normal workplace duties nor from tasks specifically assigned by the employer.
Rely on Experienced Guidance and Expertise
The attorneys at Slape & Howard have long been fighting for employees’ rights to benefits rightfully theirs under the state’s workers compensation system. We’ve been striving in alliance with other attorneys to make much-needed revisions to the KWCA that will remove hurdles and delays that didn’t exist prior to the passage of the legislation.
If you’re facing delays, denials, or challenges in your workers' compensation claim, contact us immediately. We have the knowledge, experience, and resources to help you obtain the best result possible for your claim.