What is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault insurance scheme mandated by state law for most employers. The purpose of workers’ compensation insurance is to:
- Compensate the injured employee for medical expenses and lost wages;
- Help the injured employee recover and get back to work;
- Keep personal injury lawsuits based on workplace accidents or conditions out of the court system;
- Preserve the employer-employee relationship.
An injured worker is compensated much more quickly than they would be if they have to sue their employer and wait for a money judgment or settlement.
Under workers’ compensation, an injured worker receives all medically-necessary treatment and is compensated at ⅔ of wages for the time at work lost due to the injury. If the worker cannot return to previous duties, they may be eligible for “light duties.” If a worker is temporarily or permanently partially or totally disabled, they may receive compensation for that based on the severity of the disability.
An “employee” is entitled to workers’ compensation if they are injured or contract a disease or condition “in the course of employment.”
How to Get Benefits, Medical Treatment, and Money Damages if You’re Hurt in a Motor Vehicle Accident While Working
Motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of catastrophic injury and death to persons of all ages in the United States. Every five seconds a crash happens, every ten seconds a driver or passenger is hurt, and every 12 minutes someone dies because of an auto accident.
Many of these motor vehicle accidents happen during the workday. And involve people going to and from work or completing job-related tasks. In 2013 motor vehicle accidents killed more than 1,500 people while they were working and injured close to 300,000 more employees.
If you’re hurt in one of these auto accidents while on the clock, you may be entitled not only to workers compensation benefits but also to money damages through a personal injury lawsuit.
The goal of this article is to help you – the injured employee – receive workers comp if you’re hurt in a car accident while working. And to help you figure out if you have a viable personal injury case because of your on-the-job crash.
After reading this article you will know:
How the number of workers comp motor vehicle accident claims has increased in the past decade;
What makes workers comp car accident claims different from other types of workers comp claims;
Common causes of on-the-job auto accidents and injuries resulting from motor vehicles;
What employees are at the greatest risk of having a workers comp car accident case;
The most common injuries and conditions resulting from an on-the-job motor vehicle crash;
The types of workers comp benefits available if you’re hurt in work-related auto accident;
Specific rules that apply to workers comp car accident claims;
The costs of motor vehicle accidents to employers;
When you may have both a workmans comp and personal injury claim because of your motor vehicle crash; and
When you may seek Social Security Disability benefits because of an auto accident while on the job
You must protect your legal rights. Generally workers comp claims resulting from auto accidents are more costly, last longer, and lead to more severe injuries than other types of workers comp claims. Take action now so that you can give yourself the best chance of physical and financial recovery.
If you have questions about workers compensation laws , or are looking for help calculating the value of your personal injury case , call me for a free consultation: 804-251-1620 or 757-810-5614. As an experienced Virginia workers compensation lawyer Richmond car accident attorney , I’ve helped hundreds of people obtain top-dollar auto accident and workers comp settlements arising out of motor vehicle crashes on the job. And I can help you.
Who is really defined as an “Employee?”
An independent contractor, seasonal worker, day laborer, temporary worker, unpaid volunteer, or family member will not be entitled to workers’ compensation unless they can show they should be deemed an “employee” for the purposes of workers’ compensation. Courts ask the following questions to determine whether a worker is an employee:
- Does your employer control the details of the work?
- Does your worker have specialized knowledge, skill, or training?
- Is the worker engaged in a type of work that is independent of the employer’s type of work?
- Is the worker paid by the job or paid a salary or an hourly rate?
- Does the worker furnish his own tools?
- Does the employer make deductions for Social Security or unemployment insurance?
- Does the employer dictate the hours or days of work?
- Does the employer retain hiring and firing power, or does the worker have the right to finish a job?
Driving the Company Vehicle Not Part of Regular Work Duties
If an employee does not drive a company vehicle as part of his regular work duties, workers’ compensation will not apply if he is injured in or by one.
If the employer did not direct the employee to drive a company vehicle, and the employee operates a company vehicle and is injured, he will not be covered by workers’ compensation. However, if the employer knew the employee was operating a company vehicle without permission or authorization and did nothing about it, the employee may be covered.
Horseplay In or Near Company Vehicle or Other Vehicle on Jobsite
Horseplay or fooling around is not considered part of work duties. If an employee is fooling around in or near a company vehicle and is injured, he will not be covered by workers’ compensation. However, if the employer knew about habitual horseplay and did nothing to stop it, the injured employee may be covered.
Doing Something Illegal In or Near Company Vehicle
If an employee is engaged in an illegal act and is injured in or by a company vehicle, workers’ compensation will not apply.
For example, if an employee is driving a company vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, he will not be covered by workers’ compensation if he is injured in an accident. If an employee is speeding, tailgating, or engaged in some other motor vehicle infraction and is injured in an accident, he is likely not covered.
Similarly, if an employee is injured by a company vehicle while engaged in illegal activity, he is not covered by workers’ compensation. If he is fighting with another employee and fails to notice a company vehicle and is struck by it, he will not be covered.
Frequency of Workers Compensation Motor Vehicle Accident Claims
The number of workers comp claims filed each year has declined over the past decade.
There are several reasons for this: automation; the use of robots in warehouses and distribution centers; a focus on safety in the workplace; and, an increase in the pressure that employers put on employees to not file for workers comp so that insurance premiums don’t go up.
But one type of workers comp claim has not followed this trend: workmans comp claims based on auto accidents. These claims, which include both “occupant” claims, where a motor vehicle occupant is hurt, and “struck by” claims, where a pedestrian, bicyclist, or co-worker standing around is hurt in the motor vehicle accident, have increased over the past decade.
Traffic crash injuries and fatalities among the general population, meaning those not hurt in a motor vehicle accident while working, has also increased in frequent years.