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Understanding the Commercial Traveler Rule

Under the commercial traveler rule, an employee traveling on the employer's business is regarded as acting within the course of employment during the entire period of his or her travel. Workers' compensation coverage applies to the travel itself and also to other aspects of the trip reasonably necessary for the sustenance, comfort and safety of the employee. But the commercial traveler rule does not cover all of an employee's activities. Personal activity not contemplated by the employer might constitute a material departure from the course of employment. (Latourette v. Workers' Comp. Appeals Bd. (1998) 17 Cal. 4th 644, 652.)

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Understanding the Premises Line Rule

Under the judicially created going and coming rule, an employee's injury while commuting to and from work is not compensable under the workers' compensation system, absent special or extraordinary circumstances. That's because long ago, the California Supreme Court believed that an employee going to and from the place of employment did not render any service for the employer. (Ocean Accident and Guarantee Co. v. IAC (1916) 173 Cal. 313, 322.) But, "In an effort to create a sharp line of demarcation as to when the employee's commute terminates and the course of employment commences, courts adopted the premises line rule, which provides that the employment relationship generally commences once the employee enters the employer's premises." (Wright v. State of California (2015) 233 Cal. App. 4th 1218, 1231.) Injuries occurring after an employee has arrived on the employer's premises generally are presumed compensable as arising in the course of employment. Moreover, what constitutes the...

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