AUTO ACCIDENTS ON THE JOB
America is one of the largest countries in the world, and as such, driving is a major part of all of our lives. Since most of our cities aren’t as centralized as other countries, and we have so much space to cover, the vast majority of Americans drive every single day. And a lot of times, all of that driving translates into our jobs. There are all kinds of jobs where employees are required to drive for their position, whether they drive their own cars or the company car. But what happens in the event that you’re in a car accident while you’re working? Who is responsible for the accident, and who pays the bills? And most importantly, what happens if you’re injured?
Car accidents on the job aren’t always clear cut as to who is responsible for what. But if you were on the job during the time of the accident, your employer is responsible for paying for any injuries sustained, and possible for damages to the vehicle as well. But first, you must establish that you were on the job.
What constitutes an on the job car accident?
There are several qualifications that prove that you were on the job at the time of the accident.
- You were making deliveries for your company
- You were driving another employee
- Driving is a part of your job; i.e. truck driver or delivery professional
- You were running an errand for your boss or employer
- You have no fixed office and travel for your job
- You are paid for your travel time to and from work
If any of the above cases are true at the time of your accident, you will likely receive compensation for injuries sustained upon filing a workers’ compensation claim.
It’s important to note that in most cases, workers’ compensation is not available for employees in a car accident on their way to or from work. At that point, you are not considered on the job. There are exceptions to this rule, say if you were on your way into the office, picked up supplies for your job, and were then involved in an accident, but for the most part, your daily commute will not fall under a workers’ compensation claim.
Now that you know who is responsible for your medical bills in the event that you are injured in a work-related car accident, what happens if the car accident wasn’t your fault?
On the Job Car Accident Civil Claims
In addition to a workers’ compensation claim, you may bring a civil claim against the other driver if they were at fault for the accident. That driver is referred to by the court as a “third party,” and the claim you file against them is known as a “third party claim.”
How does a civil claim differ from a workers’ compensation claim?
A civil claim will actually cover more damages than a workers’ compensation claim. Workers’ compensation claims are paid by the employer or the employer’s insurance company, and only cover expenses incurred from medical bills as well as any lost wages from the incident. In a workers’ compensation claim, you will not receive recompense for additional pain and suffering due to the accident, nor will property damages to your car be covered. These are payments that can only be recovered in civil claims.
When you decide to bring up a third party claim, you have to prove that the other driver was at fault. This means that they caused the accident, either intentionally or unintentionally. Then, if your civil claim is successful, you can receive compensation for any additional pain and suffering you experienced, as well as the damage to your vehicle in the accident.
Filing both a Workers’ Compensation and Civil Claim
You can file both a workers’ compensation and civil claim, as you’re claiming different things from different parties. You have the right to receive compensation from both parties, especially if the third party driver did cause the accident. It is important to note that if you do receive compensation from both parties, your employer may have the right to request reimbursement for the compensation paid to you through workers’ compensation. This is called a “lien.” Say you are compensated with $5,000 from your employer or employer’s insurance company for your injuries, and then you receive an additional $30,000 from the other driver who was at fault. At this point, your employer could insist that you reimburse them for the amount you were paid out of workers’ compensation benefits.
If you were injured in a car accident while on the job, it’s important to know that you have rights. As long as it’s clear that you were definitely working at the time of the accident, you should almost necessarily receive workers’ compensation benefits. If your employer or their insurance company denies your claim, you have a right to fight for the damages you suffered. Make sure to talk to your qualified workers’ compensation attorney to receive the compensation you deserve.
The same goes for your civil claim. If the other driver was clearly at fault for your on the job accident, you shouldn’t have to pay out of your own pocket for vehicle repairs, and you deserve compensation for additional pain and suffering due to the accident.
On the job car accidents can be devastating. If you drive for a living, and your truck or delivery vehicle and contents are destroyed, and you are injured, you lose so much in just an instant: your daily wage, your method of transportation, and even your health. You shouldn’t have to pay for those damages yourself. If you’ve been in a car accident at work, and aren’t sure what to do next, make sure to get in touch with a qualified workers’ compensation law firm, like The Epstein Law Firm. Your initial case evaluation is on us. Give our office a call at 773-522-7000 or request an appointment online today.