Work-related auto accidents and possibility of claims

by | Mar 15, 2024 | Auto Accidents

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A large number of people scurry in their vehicles to work every day. In the United States, auto accidents have become a prominent reason for work-related fatalities. Wikipedia records that work-related motor vehicle crashes in the USA account for 24% of all work-related fatalities. Between the years 2003 and 2018 around 29,000 people died in work-related auto accidents. American companies pay out approximately $25 billion in compensation to their employees and their families in work-related auto accidents every year.

Causes of work-related auto accidents:

For the workers, whether they drive light or heavy vehicles, work-related travels often turn out to be a constraint. People are in a hurry to reach their workplace. the commercial truck drivers rush to complete their deliveries on time. Such pressurized travels may lead to accidents.

Delivery trucks and vans hurry past people intending to deliver the goods on time. Pressure to attain the daily targets makes the drivers speed on the highways, risking their and others’ lives. Most auto accidents happen during the evening when most workers are on their way home. Drowsiness and fatigue make the workers lose their attention while driving. Maneuvering vehicles especially trucks will be risky when the drivers are not alert. Commercial truck accidents are the number one reason for increasing fatality in work-related auto accidents.

Do you know what all come under work-related auto accidents?

The following are considered work-related auto accidents. The accident occurs during the work time when you are:

  • On the way to delivering goods
  • Commuting a co-worker to work-related places
  • Going from one worksite to the other
  • in your to and fro journey from home to work, and you are paid for it
  • Transporting work-related equipment
  • Going on a work-related errand
  • Using your personal car for a sales call

However, all auto accidents during work time cannot be considered work-related. The exceptions are as follows:

The accident occurs during:

  • Your lunch break
  • Your deviation from usual work routes
  • When you are going for your personal errands
  • When you are intoxicated while driving

Independent contractors, freelance workers, domestic workers for the employer, people who work for aid such as food or housing, volunteers of non-profitable organizations, etc also cannot claim workers’ compensation claims, when involved in work-related auto accidents.

Workers’ compensation and auto accidents:

If you are a victim of an auto accident during work hours, remember to inform your supervisor or employer first. Because most workers’ compensation insurances give a period of window time to file the claim. The employer or the victim can move the claim to the insurance company with the information of the victim’s personal details and accident and injury details. Let’s see some important information regarding work-related automobile accidents.

Employer’s responsibility:

The employer should make sure all his employees using vehicles for their work know about what should be done if met with an accident. He should ensure all the employees handling heavy vehicles are experienced and efficient in handling them.

Benefits of workers’ compensation insurance:

Workers’ compensation insurance can benefit the employees during auto accidents by giving temporary partial benefits or permanent total disability benefits.

Temporary partial benefits compensate for their lost time at work, medical expenses, and temporary disability to perform work to the full capacity. While, the permanent and total disability benefits are given to the victims, who are disabled to work permanently. Most insurance companies even provide medical care providers and rehabilitation care for the victims.

Death benefits include burial fees and weekly cash payments of about 75% of the deceased worker’s average weekly salary to the financial dependants. The spouse can get it till death or remarriage and dependent children are eligible till they finish school.

3. Can you sue your employer for car accident injuries?

You cannot sue your employer for work-related auto accident injuries, as in the other work-related accidents. Because they have workers’ compensation insurance for their employees, they are protected from being sued by the employees under your state’s workers’ compensation laws. You can, however, sue the employer if they do not have workers’ compensation insurance.

4. Can your workers’ comp claim be denied in auto accidents?

Yes, some insurance companies may deny even your eligible workers’ compensation claim based on the given grounds:

  • Failure to report the accident immediately
  • No witnesses to your accident
  • The accident report and ER medical records did not coincide
  • Traces of drug or alcohol in your blood in the initial medical reports
  • Filed the claim after you were dismissed from or left the job

Are you also eligible for a personal injury claim?

Yes, you are eligible for a personal injury claim against the faulty driver who caused the accident. As your workers’ comp does not cover your non-economic injuries, you need to find alternative ways to get a lucrative sum to meet your future medical expenses. A personal injury claim against the third party’s auto insurer will help you get the following damages:

  • Present and future loss of wages
  • Present and future medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of consortium for the spouse
  • Loss consortium for the kids
  • Loss of enjoyment
  • Present and future medical assistance services
  • Medical equipment bought due to the subject’s auto accident

Difference between both the claims:

The personal injury claim differs from the workers’ comp in considering your emotional damages like mental agony and also property damages if your personal vehicle was damaged in the work-related auto accidents. All these are not covered under the workers’ comp.

Even if you are liable for auto accidents, you can claim workers’ compensation if you sustained auto accident injuries. It never considers who is responsible. However, in a personal injury claim, the degree of your negligence affects the amount of your auto accident settlement.

For filing a claim to workers’ comp, the window period is very short like 30 days to 2 or 3 months. However, in a personal injury claim, you will get a period of not less than a year to move your solicitation. These window periods change depending on the laws of various states.

Eager to get a double recovery!

A work-related auto accident victim can go for a workers’ compensation claim from the insurer and a personal injury claim against the negligent driver who caused the accident, together. However, if you think, you would get a double recovery as you expect, you are wrong. The workers’ comp can reimburse the settlement given by them when you recover your personal injury compensation.

For example, you are given $20,000 from your workers’ comp and you received another $30,000 in your personal injury claim. In such cases, most workers’ comp insurance companies have the right of subrogation to reimburse the amount given by them from the personal injury or auto accident settlement. So you will end up with just $10,000.

What if you have caused damage to other vehicles and their occupants?

As you can see, if you are injured at work, worker’s compensation will come to your aid in relieving your financial burden. What would happen if you inflicted injuries on others while driving the company vehicle? The injuries and damages sustained by the pedestrians or other vehicle occupants will be covered by your employer’s liability insurance. Medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering are all covered by liability insurance. It also covers your legal fees if the injured third-party sue you.

However, if the accident occurred during your lunch break or while on a personal errand, your employer will not be held liable for the damages you caused. Your own auto insurance should cover the third party’s damages.

If you cause auto accidents while driving your personal vehicle while on the job, your employer is liable for the damages you cause to others. The scope of employment means that whatever you do while traveling is related to your job or employer. However, if it occurs during your break time or while you are performing personal work, you are liable for the plaintiff’s injuries.

How can an auto accident lawyer help you?

Getting a workers’ compensation as well as a personal injury claim together is not as easy as you think. A tactful workers’ comp insurer can reimburse the amount which you thought would add up to eliminate your financial worries easily. However, if you have the guidance and assistance of an auto accident law firm, you can fight against this unjust reimbursement.

Sometimes you may not get enough bucks in your auto accident settlement to make you as whole as before the accident. In addition to that, if a major part of it is deducted, you cannot make both ends meet. In such instances, your auto accident attorney can analyze your litigation and even prevent it and help you claim the most of your indemnity.

Work-related auto accident claims can also include claims against auto manufacturing defects, road defects, and so on. If the manufacturing defects of the vehicle caused the accident, compensation would be given based on the degree of fault that can be attributed to the automobile part.  Therefore, by being abetted by an attorney for the auto accident, you could make the best out of your claims.

Final thoughts

When you speed on the highways thinking of completing your deliveries on time, make sure to be vigilant and cautious to prevent casualties. If you met with an accident, collect the evidence and inform your employer as early as possible. Be shrewd and prudent in knowing your rights as an employee and seek the help of auto accident injury lawyers. An experienced auto accident attorney and an expert medical record review company combined could do wonders to get you a lucrative monetary benefit in your legal proceedings.

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