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Can you get workers' comp for an accident during your commute?

You commute to and from work every day. No, you're not technically on the clock, but it's still clearly something that is required by your job. It also poses serious injury risks, as tens of thousands of Americans are hurt in car accidents every year.

So, if you're in an accident while you're going to work or driving home, can you get workers' compensation? Is your employer liable, since you were just trying to get to your place of business? Without that job, you never would have been exposed to the risk.

Typically, the answer is no. You can get workers' compensation if you're actively on the clock at the time of the accident -- if you're a truck driver, for instance, who drives for a living -- but not for your commute. Any time before you arrive or after you leave is personal time.

There are, of course, exceptions. For example, in one case, a worker was injured in a crash while heading home, but he was an on-call worker. Because of his on-call status, it was ruled that he should get workers' compensation after the wreck.

That said, when the court ruled on that case, they made sure to specify that it applied only to that specific case and that specific set of circumstances. It does not mean that all commuting workers have the same rights or even that all on-call workers can get compensation. Each case is unique.

As such, it's very important for workers to know their rights. Those who are hurt in work-related car accidents may be entitled to different types of financial compensation.

Source: Mondaq, "United States: On-Call Employee Injured While Driving Home From Work Eligible For Workers’ Compensation Benefits," Bart Sisk, Oct. 25, 2017

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