If you’re on the job, driving your own or your employer’s vehicle and are injured in a crash, you should be able to collect workers’ compensation benefits and, if the other party’s at fault, maintain a lawsuit against them too. Every accident’s unique, and how this plays out in your case depends on the facts and applicable laws.
Work-related vehicle crashes cost American employers about $25 billion a year, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They state vehicle accidents are the leading cause of employee deaths. The agency estimates that from 2003 to 2014, 22,000 people died in work-related vehicle accidents.
The Many Moving Parts to Injury Claims Due to a Vehicle Accident While Working
You may have different options depending on the facts of the case. Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, LLP investigates all our clients’ accidents so we can find those facts and maximize your chances of obtaining compensation for their injuries.
- Were You Performing Your Job While Driving?
Whether you’re driving your car or a company vehicle, whether you share the blame or not with the other party, you should be able to collect workers’ compensation if you made the trip as an employee in the normal scope of your job.
If your employer disputes this, we may use copies of emails, text messages, or company documents that this trip was part of your job and that management authorized it.
Workers’ comp doesn’t usually include an accident during your commute to or from work, but that depends on where you were driving and why on this particular trip. If you caused the accident while driving recklessly or were intoxicated, you might not be successful because violating traffic laws are outside the scope of your job duties.
In Texas, workplace injury laws have two systems: workers’ compensation and non-subscriber.
- Workers’ compensation: This will pay you partial wage replacement, for your medical treatment, rehabilitation, and an amount if you suffer a partial or total permanent disability. The cause of the accident doesn’t matter, as long as you were acting in the scope of your job
- Non-subscriber: These employees are not part of the workers’ comp system. You can sue them for your medical treatment, rehabilitation, and compensation for your injuries. Your case won’t be successful if your employer can show you caused the accident
You might also maintain a third-party personal injury lawsuit if another party is at fault. This would be similar to a claim you could make if the accident happened on your own time. If another driver caused the accident and injuries, you could file a negligence claim against them to recover compensation for your injuries, pain, suffering, disability, and out-of-pocket costs.
If your case is successful and you collected workers’ comp benefits too, that insurance company may seek a share of your winnings to pay them back for some of what they spent on you.
- Were You In a Company Owned Vehicle?
If so, your rights to work injury benefits and filing a possible third-party claim are not affected. The fact it’s not your vehicle makes your claim you were on the job at the time easier to collect workplace injury benefits.
Your employer should have liability insurance to cover claims against you if you’re accused of causing the accident and injuring someone else. This claim could be denied if the insurer believes you were on a personal errand, intoxicated, or committed a crime during the trip.
- Were You Driving Your Vehicle?
The fact you’re in your own vehicle doesn’t bar you from collecting workers’ comp benefits or recovering damages if your employer is a non-subscriber. However, don’t assume that your company’s liability insurance or your personal policy will cover your potential liability and costs in this situation.
Your employer’s liability insurance probably won’t pay to repair or replace your vehicle. You could file a claim with your car insurance carrier and with the one used by the driver who caused the accident.
But most personal vehicle policies won’t cover job-related accidents unless you purchase a special rider or have your own commercial vehicle policy. If you use your private vehicle for your job, you must speak to your insurance agent and discuss the situation, so you’re fully covered.
Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, LLP Helps Those Seriously Injured in Vehicle Accidents
Our attorneys have many years of legal experience helping car accident victims and those injured on the job. Don’t worry about costs when you call us– we work on contingency, and we’ll evaluate your case during a free consultation.