What is the special errand exception?

On Behalf of | Dec 6, 2017 | Blog, Firm News |

Many employees in North Carolina are not hurt directly at their place of work. Transportation injuries make up a big part of workers’ compensation claims, and in 2015, they made up 34 percent of all workplace injuries in the state. 

Many employers naturally wonder when an injury technically takes place at work when an employee drives to or from the job. For the most part, when a worker drives to work in the morning, he or she is not on the clock. That means if this worker ended up in an accident, the employer would not be liable to provide workers’ comp. However, there is a special errand exception. 

What is this rule?

Employees cannot receive workers’ compensation until they actually step foot in their place of work. They forfeit any workers’ comp when they clock out of work for the day. During the course of the day, the employee may need to leave the premises to run an errand for the boss. Since the employee carries out a work-related task, he or she would qualify for workers’ comp if this person ends up sustaining an injury even though he or she is not technically at work. 

This rule also applies if an employee attended a work-related function outside normal business hours. For example, if an employer held an awards ceremony or training course, then any injuries sustained during this event would still qualify for benefits.

How does foreseeability play a role?

There may be circumstances where an employer will still hold liability for failing to prevent injuries that were easily foreseeable. For instance, the employer may host a workplace holiday party. The employer serves alcohol but fails to make accommodations for people to get home. Even though an employee drives home from work and would ordinarily no longer qualify for workers’ comp, an intoxicated worker could end up in an accident. The employer may have some liability in this case. 

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