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In general, you are not covered by workers’ compensation while traveling to and from work. However, there are four exceptions to that rule.

The most common exception is known as the “gray area” rule, which recognizes that there is a point where the risks of the commute merge with the risks of the employment. Where that point lies is different in every case, because it depends on the nature of employer’s property, where the worker was when s/he was injured, and other factors. In general, however, the closer the worker is to the work location, the more likely it is that they will be covered – even if they were not yet clocked in and even if the accident did not actually occur on the employer’s property.

Another exception is the “outside worker” rule, which applies to workers who do not have a specific work location but instead go directly from home to a variety of different places (like a visiting nurse).

Two other exceptions are the “special errand” rule and the “dual purpose trip.” If the employer sends the worker somewhere for a work purpose, or calls the worker in on an emergency basis when they would otherwise have been off duty, the travel is considered a special errand and is covered by workers’ comp. Similarly, if the worker is going somewhere for themselves (like going out to lunch) and the employer asks them to do something for work at the same time (like stop at a store to pick up office supplies), then the travel is considered to have both work and personal purposes and is usually covered by workers’ comp.


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