What To Do If You Were Injured In Company Car
Florida employees who are injured on the job are entitled to pursue workers’ compensation benefits. When people are traveling to and from their company while they are off of the clock however, they are generally not considered to be working. Accordingly, any injuries that happen during those times are not typically covered under the Florida Workers’ Compensation law. Whether the “coming and going” rule applies when an employee is traveling to and from work in a company-issued vehicle has been murkier, but a recent court decision from the Florida First District Court of Appeals sheds some light on this question. If you were injured in company car, here is some information about this new decision from Coral Springs Workers’ Compensation lawyer Evan M. Ostfeld, Esquire.
Factual and Procedural Background
An AC service technician worked for Kelly Air Systems and was provided an employer-owned vehicle. The company also allowed him to use it to and from work and for some personal activities. One particular instance, the tech traveled to his last service call and called his supervisor to let him know the job was done. On the way home however, he was injured in an auto accident and filed a Florida Workers’ Compensation claim thru their insurance.
The workers’ compensation adjuster denied the case and argued that he was not in the course and scope of his employment when the incident occurred. Traditionally, “the coming and going” rule means that travel to and from one’s place of employment is not considered work related. Since the technician was simply traveling home from work at the time of the crash, he should not be entitled to Florida Workers’ Compensation benefits.
The Florida Workers’ Compensation Claims judge however found that the tech was in a “traveling status” under § 440.092(4), Fla. Stat. (2021). He held that since the employee was driving an employer-owned truck at the time of his accident, the “coming and going” rule did not apply. The “traveling status” rule allows employees to be compensated for their injuries when they travel as required by their particular job. The court also found that the “coming and going” rule did not apply since the worker did not enjoy unlimited personal use of the company’s vehicle.
Appeals Court Decision
The First District Court of Appeals first considered the definition of what “exclusive personal use” meant under prior case law. Unfortunately, no clear definition was found but the statute did provide some guidance. The court held that what constitutes “exclusive personal use” should also be interpreted within the meaning of the “coming-and-going” rule.
The court then considered whether the technician was in a “travel status” It held that he was not at the time of his accident. The justices noted that it did not matter that the employee was routinely required to drive to service calls as a part of his job. Instead the vital fact was the type of status that he was in at the time of the crash. It was clear from the facts that the worker even told his supervisor he was “done” for the day and heading home; meaning he was no longer on the clock. Since the employee was simply traveling home from work, the “coming and going rule” applied and prevented a claim for workers’ compensation benefits to proceed; meaning the appellate court overturned the judge’s initial decision.
Now let’s just say that the boss instructed the employee to stop at a supplier to obtain some materials for the next day’s work on this way home. Before he reaches the destination however, his company van is rear ended. This is an example of an exception to the “coming and going” rule since he was doing some “work” on behalf of the company. In this example, Florida Workers’ Compensation benefits would be available for any injuries.
The court distinguished the Kelly case with McCormick v. State Auditor General. In McCormick, an auditor was injured while traveling home from a job site after completing her workday but was still eligible for Florida Workers’ Compensation benefits. Why? Her company actually pays her for the time she spends traveling home from various job sites. Unlike the AC technician, it was held that the auditor was a “travelling employee” at the time of the incident.
Get Help From an Experienced Coral Springs Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
Since it’s very confusing about whether or not an employee can recover Florida Workers’ Compensation benefits in automobile accidents, you should seek answers right away.
Do not simply rely on what your employer and the workers’ compensation adjuster tells you. They are only looking out for their own interests, not yours!
Contact Evan M. Ostfeld, Esq. and his legal team right away in order to learn about your rights at (866) I SUE YOU, (954) 227-7529, (954) 998-0075 Text or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Law Offices of Evan M. Ostfeld, P.A. has more than 28 years of experience and provides a no-obligation case evaluation. There are no upfront attorney’s fees or costs unless there is a recovery or court award. We are here to help!