Does Workers’ Compensation Cover a Car Accident While Driving a Company Car?June 14, 2022
If you suffer an injury in the workplace, the costs associated with your injuries are covered by Workers’ Compensation. That includes your medical expenses, lost wages, disability if the injury prevents you from returning to work, and death benefits if the injury results in a fatality. However, things get a bit more complicated if you are injured in a car accident while driving a company car. Although you may still be covered by your employer’s Workers’ Compensation plan, there are situations in which Workers’ Compensation will not cover the property damage or injuries associated with the accident. A highly skilled Workers’ Compensation lawyer will thoroughly review the circumstances of the car accident, determine whether you are eligible for Workers’ Compensation benefits, and assist you with every step of the claims process.
Millions of workers either drive a car or ride in a vehicle as part of their job. Unfortunately, car accidents are the leading cause of work-related deaths in the United States. That means if you drive a truck, a van, or any other type of company car, you are at risk of being involved in a car accident. Fortunately, if you were acting within the scope of your employment, your injuries will likely be covered by Workers’ Compensation.
When Does My Employer’s Workers’ Compensation Cover Car Accident Injuries?
When we think about work-related injuries, what often comes to mind are injuries that occur at busy construction sites, warehouses, and the transportation and health care industries. Although these are some of the most common places where work-related injuries occur, a worker can also suffer a serious injury if they are in a car accident while carrying out their job responsibilities driving a company car. When you are acting within the scope of your employment or acting on behalf of your employer, this is known as the legal doctrine of respondeat superior, also known as vicarious liability, which means that your employer is responsible for any injuries or property damage that is caused by an employee. For example, if you were driving a company car to a meeting with a client and rear-end another vehicle on your way to the meeting, Workers’ Compensation will likely cover the losses associated with the accident, including medical expenses, property damage, and lost wages. The following are examples of circumstances that are covered by Workers’ Compensation if you are in a car accident while driving:
- Transportation requested or paid for by your employer: If you are being paid for your commute to or from work and you are in a car accident, your resulting injury may be covered by Workers’ Compensation. This applies if you are driving a company car or your own vehicle.
- Premises exception: If you are involved in a car accident in the parking lot, or anywhere on your employer’s premises, your injuries and property damage will be covered by Workers’ Compensation.
- Special dangers: You may be entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits if there are special hazards associated with your commute to or from work. A Workers’ Compensation lawyer can determine whether you are entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits for a so-called coming-and-going injury.
- Dual purpose: If you work half of the day in the office and the other half at home, and you were injured in a car accident on your way home, you are eligible for Workers’ Compensation benefits, provided the “mission” for your employer is at least a significant part of the travel need as the personal part.
- Special errands: If your employer asked you to run an errand, such as going to the store on a Sunday to pick up supplies for a meeting on Monday, and you were injured in a car accident while performing the errand, your injuries will likely be covered by Workers’ Compensation.
When Are Car Accident Injuries Not Covered by Workers’ Compensation?
According to the Maryland Workers’ Compensation coming-and-going rule, you are not eligible for Workers’ Compensation benefits if you were injured in a car accident while you were on your way to or from work. During this time, you are not officially on the clock, and it is your responsibility to obey the rules of the road; avoid unsafe driving behaviors such as speeding, distracted driving, tailgating, and aggressive driving; and commute to and from work safely. The following are additional examples of situations that are not covered by Workers’ Compensation:
- You were engaging in criminal activity at the time of the accident, including driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- You were using the company car for personal errands that have nothing to do with your job responsibilities. This is known as “going on a frolic.”
- You were using the company car for personal or recreational travel, or other non-business activities beyond business hours.
What Should I Do if I Am in a Car Accident While Driving a Company Car?
Whether you are driving your own vehicle or a company car, getting into a car accident can be a stressful and traumatic experience, particularly if there is personal injury involved. Knowing what steps to take immediately following the accident can make the experience far less stressful.
- Check for injuries. This is the top priority after an accident. If your injuries are not life-threatening and you are able to move safely, move your vehicle to the side of the road and out of the way of oncoming traffic. If you or the other motorist involved has back or neck pain, do not attempt to move unless not doing so would put you or the other motorist in more danger.
- Call 911. Report the accident as soon as possible and request an ambulance if there are any injuries. The police officer who arrives at the scene will fill out a police report, which will include important details about the accident.
- Take pictures. Use your phone to take pictures of the damage to your vehicle, your injuries, road signs, traffic signals, debris or marks on the road, and anything else that can help determine the cause of the accident.
- Exchange information. Make sure that you exchange contact information, driver’s license numbers, license plate numbers, and insurance information with the other driver.
- Seek immediate medical attention. Even if your injury seems minor, make sure that you are examined by a medical professional as soon as possible.
- Notify your employer. Let your employer know that you were injured in a car accident so that they can initiate the Workers’ Compensation claims process.
- Contact a Workers’ Compensation lawyer. A dedicated Workers’ Compensation lawyer will assist you with every step of the claims process and ensure that you receive the benefits to which you are entitled.
What Does Workers’ Compensation Cover?
If you are injured in a car accident while you are on the job, Workers’ Compensation provides a wide range of benefits, including the following:
- Medical expenses. This includes hospitalization, surgical procedures, prescription medications, and other costs associated with the injury.
- Wage reimbursement. You are entitled to reimbursement for wages lost because of the injury.
- Vocational rehabilitation. If your injury prevents you from returning to work in the same capacity, you are entitled to job training, vocational assessment and evaluation, counseling, and job placement services.
- Disability benefits. If the injury caused a temporary or permanent disability, you are entitled to disability benefits through your employer’s Workers’ Compensation plan. Depending on the nature and severity of your disability, you may be entitled to temporary partial disability benefits, temporary total disability benefits, permanent partial disability benefits, or permanent total disability benefits.
- Death benefits. If a work-related car accident results in a fatality, the surviving family members are eligible for death benefits, which covers funeral and burial expenses, medical expenses the deceased received prior to his or her death, and a percentage of the deceased’s average weekly wage.
It is important to understand that Workers’ Compensation does not reimburse employees for any pain and suffering associated with the accident. Pain and suffering refers to damages that are available through a personal injury lawsuit.
Workers’ Compensation ensures that employees get immediate medical care and a range of other benefits while preventing them from being able to sue their employer. An exception to this rule is if a third party was involved in causing the accident that resulted in the employee’s injuries. For example, if you were driving a delivery truck and you were hit by a reckless driver who was speeding and weaving in and out of lanes, you may file a Workers’ Compensation claim with your employer and seek pain and suffering damages by filing a personal injury claim against the other driver. A Workers’ Compensation lawyer can assist you with this process.
Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Advocate for Injured Workers
If you were seriously injured in a car accident while driving a company car, do not hesitate to contact the Baltimore Workers’ Compensation lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. We will help you navigate the claims process, address any questions and concerns you have, and ensure that you receive the maximum financial benefit you deserve. Our dedicated legal team will continue to fight for you until you are completely satisfied. Call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
We have offices in Baltimore, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, allowing us to represent clients in Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Parkville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.