south carolina 4047531 1280

Do You Know the Rule? S.C. ‘Travel Compensation’ Exception to ‘Coming and Going’ Rule

15 Jun, 2023 Chris Parker

south carolina 4047531 1280

Columbia, SC ( -- In South Carolina, as in other states, employees are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits with respect to injuries that occur within the scope of their employment. Under the “coming and going rule,” employees who are on their way from home to work, or from work to home, are not entitled to compensation for injuries that occur while they’re travelling, since they are no longer at work.

There are a variety of exceptions to the coming and going rule, however. These include the following:

--> When a worker is injured close to where he works, such as in a parking lot or walkway that leads to the worksite, he could be entitled to benefits.
--> A worker might be entitled to benefits if he was injured in a vehicle accident while driving a company vehicle.
--> A worker who is asked by his employer to complete a work-related task on his way to or from work and is injured in the process could be entitled to benefits.
--> A worker might be entitled to benefits if the route he is required to take to and from work is dangerous and the worker is injured on the way to or from work.
--> A worker might be entitled to benefits while traveling to or from work if the employer is providing him additional compensation for the travel (known as the “travel compensation” exception).

Travel Compensation Exception

Whether the travel compensation exception applies to an employee’s injury hinges on several factors. See Lopez-Celestin v. Reeves-Young, LLC, No. 2023-UP-219 (S.C. App. Ct. 06/12/23, unpublished).

Workers' Comp 101: In Gray v. Club Group Ltd., 528 S.E. 2d 435 (S.C. Ct. App. 2000), a courier was killed on his way home to pick up items he needed for work. A witness reported seeing the courier swerving in and out of traffic going an estimated 85 miles per hour, and a police officer estimated that the courier was driving in excess of 120 miles per hour, based on skid marks and damage of the vehicles involved in the wreck. The court held that the courier's exceeding the speed limit in performance of his duties as a courier [was] not a substantial deviation, sufficient to remove the accident from the course and scope of employment, and so his widow was entitled to benefits.

In Lopez-Celestin, the employee sought workers' compensation benefits for an injury he sustained while driving home from work on an out-of-state job. The Workers' Compensation Commission determined that the going and coming rule applied, and that the employee was not in the course of employment when he was injured.

Some of the factors courts should consider, according to the Lopez-Celestin case, are:

(1) Whether additional money the employer paid for travel depended on the distance traveled.
(2) Whether the employer paid the worker an amount of money that defrayed all or substantially all of the employee’s travel costs.
(3) The employer’s provision of money for transportation was deliberate.
(4) The increased payments for transportation was intended to induce the employee to work.

Ultimately, no one factor controls, the appeals court recently stated in Lopez-Celestin. The analysis depends on the facts of each case. Moreover, a court won’t overturn the Workers’ Compensation Commission’s finding as to whether the exception applies to a particular injury unless the Commission clearly erred.

In Lopez-Celestin, even though some of the above four factors were present, the appeals court affirmed the Commission’s finding that the increased payments were not compensation for the employer’s travel.

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