Peters v. Workers Comp. Appeal Bd. (Cintas Corp.)

In a rare unanimous opinion, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court addressed the “traveling employee doctrine” (a/k/a the continuous coverage rule or the commercial traveler rule). The traveling employee doctrine creates a rebuttable presumption that a traveling employee — for example, a truck driver — is injured during the “course of employment” when he is injured after setting out on his employer’s business. Here, the claimant was a sales rep for a uniform company. He attended a company event and was injured in a car crash on his way home. According to the claimant, the event was “sort of” mandatory. The Workers’ Compensation Judge denied benefits, holding that the claimant was not in the course of employment when the crash occurred. Both the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board and the Commonwealth Court affirmed. The claimant argued that he qualified for the traveling employee doctrine’s presumption. The Supreme Court confirmed the doctrine and held that a traveling employee must be considered in the course of their employment during the entirety of work-related travel unless the employee abandons their work. The Court stated the rule as such: When a traveling employee is injured after setting out on his employer’s business, it is presumed that he was furthering the employer’s business at the time of the injury. The Supreme Court, therefore, reversed and remanded.

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