Car accidents happen to everyone.
But what happens if you get into a car accident while on the job?
There are a lot of ways to get injured at work: a forgotten hard hat, an unsecured rug, or even overexertion. But one that’s most consistently overlooked is one of the most common causes of injury out of work: car accidents.
Even during the entirety of 2020 (a year when many people were staying home), there were more than 140,000 crashes that caused injury to drivers and their passengers.
While you might be aware of the steps to take following a crash, do you know how it affects you if you get in a car accident while on the job?
Does Workers’ Comp Cover a Car Accident While On the Job?
In some cases, yes.
Most notably, your accident had to have happened while you were working. In most cases, this means that you are not eligible for workers’ comp if you get into an accident during your commute (unless you are a police officer). You are also exempt from workers’ comp coverage if the accident happened during your lunch break—yes, even if you were picking up sandwiches for your coworkers.
Figuring out whether workers’ compensation will cover your accident injuries depends heavily on whether you were “on the job” or not.
If you were behind the wheel as a delivery driver or traveling salesperson, it’s a little more obvious when you are on or off the clock. But for employees who don’t regularly need a vehicle to complete their job duties, this question can be a little more difficult to answer.
One question your attorney might ask you is, “Was your employer controlling your actions when you got into an accident?” If you were driving to McDonald’s to get some lunch, the answer is no. If you were driving on a special errand that your boss sent you on, say to pick up extra supplies from Office Depot, then you could have a valid workers’ compensation claim.
One area where a lot of people get confused is during your daily commute. Even though you are driving to work—and even though it’s very likely your boss asked you to come in—this is not an occasion where workers’ comp benefits apply. That said there are exceptions, such as if you are a police officer or if you are running a special errand for your employer.
But I Already Have Car Insurance!
Here in Florida, all licensed drivers are required to carry a minimum of $10,000 of Personal Injury Protection (PIP) to cover their medical treatment in the event they become injured in an accident.
Further, because Florida is considered a “No Fault” state, you are required to turn to your own insurance first following an accident, even if you weren’t at fault.
However, if you get into a car accident while on the job (and have a legitimate workers’ comp claim), you do not have to use your PIP at all…which is great! Rather than being held to a $10,000 limit (or whatever your coverage limit is), you can reap the benefits of nearly unlimited medical care and lost wage reimbursement.
What If I Was At Fault?
Car insurance isn’t the only “no fault” system in Florida; the workers’ compensation program works the same way. This means that you can be at-fault for the accident and still be eligible for workers’ compensation coverage.
The goal of workers’ comp is to allow injured employees to recover as fully as they can as quickly as they can. Not requiring you or your employer to prove that anyone else was to blame speeds up the process so you can get back on your feet.
It should be noted, however, that workers’ compensation fraud is NEVER acceptable. If you are found to have intentionally caused your accident, you will not be eligible for workers’ comp (and will probably be terminated).
What If Someone Else Was At Fault?
It’s always a good idea to call the police to the scene of an accident (even a car accident while on the job). If the police report shows that another driver was at-fault for the crash (and therefore your injuries), you have the right to pursue a personal injury case against them separate from any workers’ compensation case you may also have.
While the Law Office of Brian D. Tadros only practices workers’ compensation law, we have connections with several experienced attorneys in the area and can refer you to a personal injury lawyer if you desire one.
Get A Workers’ Comp Attorney
With so many factors to consider, it can be difficult to establish that your car accident was truly a work-related injury.
If you were involved in a car accident while on the job, it can help to have an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to guide you through the process.
Remember, when you are involved in a workers’ comp claim, it is the insurance company (not your employer) who calls all the shots. Just because you have a great relationship with your boss does not mean your claim won’t be denied.
Make sure you have your own legal representation throughout your workers’ comp case so that your rights are protected.
We Are Here For You
It’s unlikely that you would know the answer to the question “how does workers comp work,” especially the finer points of the law like when car accidents can be considered a workers’ compensation claim. At the Law Office of Brian D. Tadros, we only practice workers’ compensation law and we are devoted to making sure that injured employees receive the attention and care they deserve to fully recover from their injuries.
It is impossible to predict the outcome of your case while you are still in the very beginning stages. But by having an experienced lawyer on your side, you may be able to avoid the obstacles and pitfalls that can derail your recovery.
Schedule an appointment today for your free consultation so we can discuss how best to help you.