One of the basics of workers' compensation law in Arizona is that benefits are for those who are injured at work. While this may seem simple enough to determine in most circumstances, in other cases, it can be hard to know whether an injured employee was actually on the job when he or she got hurt.
For example, normally a worker would not be able to get benefits if he or she were to get injured during his or her commute to work. This rule is called the "going and coming rule," and it simply means that Arizona does not consider a commuting accident to be a workplace accident.
On the other hand, Arizona employees often travel and run errands for their jobs. While these work-related errands will normally fall within the purview of workers' compensation laws, the question gets trickier when an employee does both personal and work-related tasks in the same trip.
In this type of case, a court or administrative body will decide whether the trip is fundamentally personal or business-related, depending on all the facts and circumstances. If the personal portion of the trip would have happened even without the work-related errand, then a worker may not be entitled to workers' compensation benefits if there is an accident.
As a relatively recent Arizona court case shows, workers can sometimes wind up not getting compensation that they need because of the going and coming rule. In the recent court case, a woman who had just dropped off some papers for work did not get workers' compensation even though she had a car accident shortly thereafter. The court determined that she was on her way home and thus not eligible for workers' compensation.
Eligibility for workers' compensation benefits is not always a cut and dried matter. Many times, it is best for Arizona workers to seek the advice of experienced workers' compensation attorneys.