Man with injured hand filling in workers compensation form

Workers Compensation Going and Coming Rule

The Law Office of David Hunt April 8, 2024

Understanding the nuances of the going and coming rule is crucial for both employees and employers in Illinois. Whether you’re an injured worker trying to make sense of your rights or an HR professional looking to increase your expertise, this guide provides clarity on the 'going and coming' rule under the Illinois workers’ compensation law

What Is the Going and Coming Rule?

The 'going and coming' rule, also known as the 'portal-to-portal' rule, states that employees are usually not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if they get injured while traveling to or from work.  

This is based on the concept that such travel is not typically considered within the scope of employment. However, like most legal concepts, there are exceptions that can change the application of the rule. 

Exceptions to the Rule

The 'going and coming' rule might apply in the following cases: 

  • A company car is used for commuting: While driving a personal vehicle to work is typically not covered, commuting in a company-owned car is usually included in state regulations. Some states specify that the company car must be used solely for commuting to and from a fixed location, while others allow for broader usage. 

  • Travel is a primary job duty: If your job involves substantial travel, it extends beyond simple commuting. This category includes professions like pilots, truck drivers, bus drivers, and state troopers, among others. However, this list is not exhaustive, as various other roles involving travel might qualify for this exception. Coverage for injuries is usually provided if the injury occurs during your primary job duties rather than during personal commuting. 

  • Traveling between multiple job locations: Utilizing a personal vehicle to travel to different work sites within a single shift is typically considered work-related under most state workers' compensation laws. Examples include a computer technician moving between office buildings or a landscaping company employee traveling to various job sites. 

  • Business travel: In many jurisdictions, all time spent on a business trip is deemed employment-related. For instance, even if a traveling employee only attends an eight-hour conference each day, the entire travel duration is considered work-related. 

  • Special errands: This exception applies when performing job-related tasks outside the workplace, such as picking up items like donuts for the office. In case of an accident during such errands, workers may be eligible for workers' compensation benefits. Even if the task is personal, like walking your boss's dog, injuries related to these duties are generally covered by employers. 

  • Employer-controlled premises: If an injury occurs in a location controlled by the employer, such as slipping on ice in the parking lot while leaving work, injured workers may qualify for benefits. 

These exceptions serve to protect employees in scenarios where their travel is a direct extension of their work responsibilities, reinforcing the understanding that employers bear a certain level of responsibility for their employees’ safety, even offsite. 

What if My Claim Is an Exception?

If you believe your claim falls under one of the exceptions to the 'going and coming' rule, it's crucial to take the right steps to secure your workers’ compensation benefits.  

  1. Report your injury to your employer as soon as possible. Whether your injury occurred on a special work assignment, on the company’s parking lot, or during a work-related trip, timely notification is critical to begin the claims process. 

  1. Document all the details surrounding the injury, including where and when it happened, who was present, and how it has affected you. These records will strengthen your claim and help ensure you receive the benefits you’re entitled to.  

  1. Contact an Illinois workers’ compensation attorney who can advocate for your rights throughout the claims process. 

Do I Need an Attorney to File a Claim?

While not required by law, a workers’ compensation attorney can significantly improve your chances of a successful claim. A workers' comp lawyer can guide you through the process, ensuring all necessary paperwork is filed correctly and on time. 

In cases where the going and coming rule may apply, an attorney can provide invaluable counsel on building a strong case for an exception. They can also negotiate with insurance companies or defend your rights in court if needed. 

Remember that an attorney’s knowledge can be particularly beneficial if your situation is complex or if your employer or their insurance carrier disputes your claim. 

Are Illinois Workers' Comp Commission Decisions Final?

Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC) decisions are not necessarily final. Here’s what you need to know: 

Initial Decisions

When an employee files a workers’ compensation claim, the IWCC reviews the case and makes an initial decision. This decision may grant or deny benefits based on the circumstances of the injury or illness. 

Appeals Process

If either the employer or the employee disagrees with the initial decision, they have the right to appeal. 

The appeal process involves requesting a reconsideration of the decision. This can be done by filing a petition for review within the specified time frame. The case then proceeds to a hearing before an arbitrator. During the hearing, both parties present evidence and arguments. The arbitrator issues a revised decision, which may uphold, modify, or reverse the initial decision. 

If either party is dissatisfied with the arbitrator’s decision, they can further appeal to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission Review Board. The Review Board reviews the case and issues a final decision. This decision is binding unless appealed to the Illinois Circuit Court. 

Circuit Court Appeal

If a party disagrees with the Review Board’s decision, they can file an appeal in the Illinois Circuit Court. The Circuit Court reviews the case de novo (as if it were a new case) and considers the evidence and arguments. The Court's decision is subject to further appeal to the Illinois Appellate Court and, if necessary, the Illinois Supreme Court. 

Remember, seeking legal advice and representation is crucial during the appeals process to navigate the complexities of workers’ compensation claims effectively. 

My Peoria Firm Is Here to Help

The workers' compensation going and coming rule in Illinois can be a complicated issue. By understanding the rules and potential exceptions, and seeking the guidance of a legal professional when needed, injured employees can protect their rights and access the benefits they deserve.  

If you're unsure about whether your injury is covered under the rule or have questions about the workers’ compensation process, it's best to consult with an attorney who is well-versed in Illinois labor law. With the right information and support, you can effectively pursue the compensation you need to recover from workplace injuries.  

Reach out to me at The Law Offices of David Hunt in Peoria, Illinois, and schedule a free consultation. Whether you’re in Peoria County, Woodford County, or Caswell County, I’m ready to help you secure the benefits you deserve after a work-related injury.