The ‘Going-and-Coming’ Rule Limitation

Gurtler v. Industrial Commission, (Court of Appeals, Division One, Published Opinion, Filed 7/28/2015)

The issue in this case is whether a trip home is within the course and scope of employment when the employee makes a brief business detour that her employment did not require.

The applicant worked as an assistant auditor for the City of Scottsdale. While driving home from work in her own car, after making a brief business detour to drop off a procedural manual at the office of a community assistance program that she was auditing, she suffered injuries in a motor vehicle accident. She was not required to make the business detour, but chose to do so in an effort to maintain good relations with her audit client. The accident happened just before she had returned to the route she normally used in her trips to and from work.

The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) denied her claim, holding that it was barred by the “going-and-coming” rule (injuries sustained while an employee is traveling to or from work are generally outside the scope of the Workers’ Compensation Act), and did not fall within any of its exceptions.

The Court of Appeals stressed that under the “dual purpose” doctrine, travel that has both business and personal motivations falls within the course of employment if the business purpose would have necessitated the trip by someone at some time. However, in this case, neither the applicant nor anyone else would have been required to make the trip to deliver the manual, because the audit department could have used the City’s regular mail service to deliver the manual. The mere fact that the applicant had made a business detour, in and of itself, was insufficient to “color the entire trip” as business related.

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