Questions about ‘Special Errand’ During Bike Wreck Send Workers’ Case Back

Frank Ferreri

New York, NY ( – An employee injured on his way to work generally won’t receive compensation, but there are circumstances under which such injury could be compensable.

For example, in Matter of Waters v. New York City Transit Authority, No. 533860 (N.Y. App. Div. 04/14/22), when a worker was hit by a car while riding his bike to work for overtime hours, the question of a “special errand” emerged.

A station agent for the New York City Transit Authority who had accepted an overtime assignment at different location from where he usually worked and was wearing his station uniform was struck by a vehicle at about 4:27 a.m. while riding his bicycle to work. As a result, he experienced various injuries, including a traumatic brain injury. He filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, which the authority controverted.

At a hearing, a Workers’ Compensation Law Judge established the claim as compensable, finding that the accident arose out of and in the course of the agent’s employment. On appeal, the Workers’ Compensation Board reversed the WCLJ and disallowed the claim, finding that the agent was not within the scope of his employment while traveling to work.

Special Errand

As a general rule, traveling to and from work is not within the scope of employment, and injuries experienced during that period are not subject to a workers’ compensation award. There are exceptions, however, including when an employee is engaged in a “special errand.”

An employee is on a “special errand” when, “at the employer’s direction, the employee undertakes a work-related errand and thereby ‘has altered the usual geographical or temporal scheme of travel, thereby altering the risks to which the employee is usually exposed during normal travel.’”

The WCLJ found that the agent was on a special errand given that he was traveling for the purpose of an overtime assignment and at a location different from his regular work spot. The board didn’t address this issue, and because of this, the court sent the case back.

“As the board has made no findings of fact with regard to whether the special errand exception applies, the matter must be remitted to the board for further proceedings in regard to this particular issue,” the court explained.