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Commuting injury not covered by workers’ compensation unless the route is hazardous

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in Compensation and Benefits,Employee Benefits Program,Human Resources

Generally, Michigan employees aren’t entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for injuries that happen while driving to or from work. One exception is that for so-called “excessive exposure to traffic risks.” But it takes more than a commute on the public roads—even busy ones—to make an employer liable for accidents.

Recent case: James Bowman was injured while commuting in his own vehicle from his work site to his temporary home. He sued for workers’ compensation benefits, claiming his drive across public roads qualified for the “excessive exposure to traffic risks” exception.

Not so, concluded the Court of Appeals of Michigan. All travel entails some risk, and there was no evidence the route was especially hazardous or that Bowman had any greater risk than any other traveler on the road. (Bowman and Auto Club Insurance v. R.L. Coolsaet Construction, No. 258518, Court of Appeals of Michigan, 2007)

Final tip: It might have been a different case if Bowman had to drive from an off-road work site and was injured.

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