Alaska’s Workers’ Compensation
Going & Coming Rule
March 1, 2022
For most people in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, Wasilla, and Palmer, Alaska, going to work and returning home requires some sort of commute. During that commute, there is always a chance that something will happen that will result in injuries, such as an auto accident, a fall, or some other misadventure.
If you have been injured while on your way to or from work, you might be wondering whether you can file a workers’ compensation claim to pay your medical expenses and the time you miss work due to those injuries. At the Law Office of Justin S. Eppler, LLC, we can answer your questions about potential coverage under Alaska’s workers’ compensation going and coming rule.
What Is the Going & Coming Rule in Alaska?
Workers’ compensation is the no-fault liability insurance coverage many employers maintain to compensate employees injured during the course and scope of their employment. There is no need to prove that the employer was somehow negligent, such as the burden of proof required for a bodily injury claim arising from, for example, an auto accident.
“Course and scope” are the critical factors in workers’ compensation coverage. If you can prove that your injuries occurred under those factors, you should qualify for coverage. Your injuries must have a causal relationship with the responsibilities of your job or your employer’s business operations.
Do not assume that just because you are not required to prove negligence in a workers’ compensation claim that your employer or its insurer will not attempt to deny claims when they can. Although Alaska’s workers’ compensation program is technically designed for self-representation, it is wise to work with an experienced attorney who understands the laws governing the program and the benefits injured employees are entitled to receive.
You can see why injuries sustained while in a vehicle, if your job requires you to travel, are generally covered by workers’ compensation. However, does your daily commute to and from work meet the coverage standard?
According to Alaska’s “going and coming rule,” an employee’s routine commute to and from the workplace is not covered under workers’ compensation. Although it is a necessary activity to maintain your job, your commute is considered extraneous to the course and scope of employment.
That said, there are some exceptions to the going and coming rule.
What Are the Exceptions to the Rule?
There are five exceptions to Alaska’s going and coming rule:
The special errand exception would allow employees to be compensated for injuries if there is an agreement between them and their employer that they are essentially “on the clock” when they drive to run errands for their employer.
The compensation exception provides that employee injuries are covered if they are compensated by their employer for the time spent during their commute.
The special hazard exception applies if employees are injured due to unsafe conditions their employer is responsible for maintaining even if that location is not on the employer’s premises.
The employer-provided transport exception applies to employees who are required to use their vehicle to get to and from work and use that vehicle in their work.
The remote site doctrine dictates that workers’ compensation coverage applies to employees whose personal activities are limited because they are required to live and work in a remote location.
Rely on Experienced Guidance
Eligibility for workers’ compensation coverage under Alaska’s going and coming rule is often nuanced. Working with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney may be your best opportunity to build a case and provide evidence that would support your right to be compensated by your employer’s insurer.
If you were injured going to or coming back from work in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, Wasilla, or Palmer, Alaska, we can help you determine whether you were acting in the course and scope of your employment at the time. We are dedicated to helping workers qualified for workers’ compensation garner compensation.
Workers’ compensation claims are extremely time-sensitive, so don’t delay. Call the Law Office of Justin S. Eppler, LLC now.