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The going and coming rule

Posted February 04, 2015 in Adel, Altoona, Advice Column, Ames, Ankeny, Beaverdale, Bondurant, Boone, Clear Lake, Clive, Des Moines West, Downtown, Greene County, Grimes, Johnston, Norwalk, Perry, Pleasant Hill, Urbandale, Waukee, West Des Moines, Windsor Heights, Winterset

In general, employers are responsible for injuries that happen during the normal course of an employee’s duties.  Most employees have a commute to work.  An important question is when the employer’s responsibility begins and when it ends.  A number of Iowa workers’ compensation cases outline when a workplace injury actually occurs in the course of an individual’s workplace duties and when it does not.

The Going and Coming Rule

“The general rule is conceded to be that the course of employment commences after an employee reaches the premises where his actual work begins and is carried on and ceases when leaves.”  Otto v. Independent School District, 23 N.W.2d at 915, 916 (1946).  An injury that occurs when someone is en route to or from their workplace is not compensable and not considered to arise out of and in the course of the employment.  Id.

The general rule is very straightforward and easy to understand.  However, complications arise when an individual’s workplace duties and responsibilities are more closely examined.  For instance:

(1)       Is the employer responsible when an employee is required to provide a vehicle for use in their work and uses that vehicle to travel to and from the workplace?

(2)       Is the employer responsible when an employee is using their own vehicle to attend a social function or conference for the benefit of their employer?

(3)       Is the employer responsible if an injury is suffered at an off-site location where an employee is working for an extended period of time for the benefit of their employer?

When the above and other situations are examined it is apparent that the general rule cannot possibly apply to all specific situations.  Therefore, if you do suffer an injury while in transport to or from work for any reason, it is important to closely examine the facts of what you were doing and the benefit to the employer of what you were doing at the time.  In many cases it is important to do additional research or discuss with an attorney the specific facts of the injury suffered.

For more information about the going and coming rule or any other questions you may have regarding workers’ compensation, please contact Nick Platt at 515/697-4368 or

Information provided by Nick Platt, attorney at law, Hopkins & Huebner P.C., 2700 Grand Ave., Suite 111, Des Moines.



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