Exceptions When Traveling To And From Work
Analyzing the Coming and Going Rule and Its Exceptions
In Wright v. Alltech Wiring & Controls, the Court of Appeals reviewed the Contractual Duty exception to the Coming and Going Rule. The employee had duties which required him to visit client job sites for estimates of security system installation. The employee would, on most days, travel to the office in the morning and then go to client’s job sites. Some mornings he would travel directly to job sites. On most days, the employee would leave job sites and return to to the office before going home at the end of a work day. The employer provided the employee with a company-owned work truck to perform work obligations. The employee used the truck for his commute and for travel to and from job sites. On February 1, 2016, the employee was involved in a motor vehicle accident at the end of the work day. The Industrial Commission denied compensability for injuries and resulting death of the employee on the basis that the death did not occur in the course and scope of employment as he was driving home. The Plaintiff appealed.
On appeal, Plaintiff argued that the Contractual Duty exception to the Coming and Going Rule applied. The Court of Appeals noted that the Coming and Going Rule generally states that an injury is not deemed to occur “in the course of employment” when it is sustained in an accident during the employee’s travel to and from work. The Court analyzed the Contractual Duty expection, which states an injury is compensabile where the employer provides a means of transportation as an incident to the contract of employment. The Court noted that, “The transportation must be provided as a matter of right; if it is merely permissive, gratuitous, or a mere accomodation, the employee is not in the course of employment. (citing Robertson v.
Constr. Co., 44 N.C. App. 335, 337, 261 S.E.2d 16, 18 (1979), disc. review denied, 299
N.C. 545, 265 S.E.2d 405 (1980)). The Court examined the findings of the Commission that there was no written or oral contract entitling the employee to a truck, company vehicles were available to most of the employees except in times fuel was too expensive, there was no requirement to use company vehicles, and a company policy indicating that travel from work to home was not “work time.” The Court found that the policy of allowing employees to use company cars was a gratuitous provision and not subject to a contract. Since the use of work trucks was permissive and not a matter of right the use did not fall under the Contractual Duty exception.
In addition, the Court determined the Traveling Salesperson Exception did not apply as there was no evidence in the record to show that the employee was acting in the course of his employment at the time of the accident. He also had a fixed work location and fixed hours making the exception in appropriate.
As a result, the Court of Appeals affirmed the Industrial Commission’s determination that the employee’s claim was not compensable.