In June 2021, a New York City bus driver sustained an injury while attempting to stop the mugging of an elderly couple.
He applied for workers’ compensation benefits but was denied because the incident fell under the “going and coming” rule. What is this?
About the incident
A bus driver for the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) in Brooklyn, NY, came to the aid of an elderly couple harassed by a homeless man with a criminal record. The attacker punched the driver, causing injuries that kept him out of work and for which he filed a workers’ compensation claim.
Unfortunately, the MTA denied his claim, explaining that the incident that resulted in his injuries occurred on the driver’s own time: during his lunch break. An MTA spokesman explained that the state of New York only approves workers’ compensation claims for job-related injuries that happen during actual working hours.
The “going and coming” rule
Workers’ compensation claims follow the “going and coming” rule. Employees cannot claim benefits as the result of injuries that occur while commuting to and from work. There are exceptions to the rule. For example, coverage is available if an employee on his way to work sustains an injury while picking up dry cleaning at the request of his employer. This is a “special” circumstance. However, the bus driver was on a lunch break, and, according to the workers’ compensation rule, suffered an injury during an altercation that happened on his own time. The heroic bus driver did not regret his decision to help the elderly couple. But with legal guidance, he might have pursued an appeal to the workers’ compensation decision with a different outcome.