HOFFMANN LAW FIRM, PC

PHYSICIAN CLAIMANT:

Q: I'm a physician with a local clinic, run by my own professional corporation. Recently, I was on call and received an emergency page. On my way to the hospital, I was injured in an motor vehicle accident. My clinic's workers' compensation carrier has denied my claim, saying it is barred by the "going and coming" rule. My personal attorney says they may be wrong. Is he correct?

A: Yes. Your case may fall under one or more of the several exceptions to the "going and coming" rule.

The general rule is that, employees are not covered under the Iowa's workers' compensation laws when traveling to, or from, work. This is known as the "going and coming" rule.

There are however, a number of exceptions to this rule. These exceptions, so long as the trip was necessitated by work and primarily for the benefit of the employer, may include cases where the employee:

1) does not have fixed hours and a fixed place of work;

2) is required to provide a vehicle for use in the employment;

3) is responding to a special call to come to work, outside normal hours, or to a place other than the usual;

4) is on an errand for the benefit, or at the request of, the employer;

5) is traveling between two work sites for the same employer;

6) on the premises of, or premises under the control of, the employer;

7) is within the "zone of danger" created by work-related intoxication;

8) is paid by the employer for mileage or expenses for the vehicle used, or for the trip;

9) using a vehicle owned by, or provided by, the employer;

10) is required to travel as a part of the job;

11) is paid for the time spent traveling;

12) attending an educational seminar paid for by the employer, or required by the employment, such as CME;

13) entertaining customers or clients of the employer, or in your profession, possibly, referring doctors;

14) traveling to social functions at which your attendance is required by the employer;

15) is a volunteer fire fighter or emergency medical care provider (from the time summoned until discharged from that duty); or

16) on a vacation paid for by the employer.

As you can see, the rule seems to have more exceptions than applications. It has been the subject of much litigation.

The only time it seems to clearly apply is where an employee is injured while driving to, or from, work at a usual place of work, and for usual fixed hours, of work, or where the trip is not required by, or primarily for the benefit of, the employer.

Also, note that certain officers of corporations, in this case your professional corporation, have the option of rejecting workers' compensation coverage and would not be covered. In order to reject the workers' compensation coverage, you must be a corporate officer and knowingly, voluntarily, and in writing reject the coverage. If you have so opted-out you have lost this valuable coverage. Yes, you saved money by not having your income included in the premium calculation for your workers' compensation policy, but was it worth it?

As each case may turn on so many different factors, we recommend that you consult an attorney before you accept the opinion of the adjustor working for your clinic's workers' compensation carrier. Your attorney may even find other factors to consider, as our list only includes some of the factors that have been considered in the past, and is not submitted as exhaustive. (top)

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