Car accidents that happen while you’re working can involve more than one type of injury case. In these scenarios, you might have both a workers’ compensation claim to cover your wages because you were performing a work function at the time and a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
But there are several important things to evaluate in workplace car accidents.
- Was the purpose of your driving a work-related task (not commuting)
- Whether you’re an employee or an independent contractor
- Who was at fault for the accident?
Read on to learn more about work-related car accidents and your options for limiting the financial impacts of your injuries.
Evaluating the Purpose of Your Trip
Before you open a workers’ compensation claim with your employer, you’ll need to evaluate the purpose of your trip. You have to have been on a work-related errand to qualify for benefits. Some examples of work-related car rides include:
- Running a work errand (such as picking up dry cleaning or event supplies)
- Driving another employee for work purposes
- Travel for work
- Driving to a work meeting or a job site (excluding commuting)
When you are on your way to the office, you are not on the clock yet. But if you’re a salesperson or other field employee visiting customers, your initial trip to the first customer of the day might be covered under workers’ compensation.
However, in some rare circumstances, commuting can be a covered workers’ compensation scenario. For example, if you’re driving a company vehicle or you’re paid for your time commuting, the accident might be eligible for workers’ compensation coverage.
In addition, while your lunch hour would be time off away from work, if you’re headed out to pick up lunch for your employer, this time could be covered under workers’ compensation as well.
Determining what qualifies as a work-related trip can be challenging. It’s best to meet with a Virginia workers’ compensation attorney to evaluate your case.
Employees Vs. Independent Contractors
As rideshare and food delivery driving have become popular ways to bring in some extra income, it’s leaving some people with questions about what happens if they get involved in an accident during their work.
The gig economy can make things blurry for accident victims. Generally, independent contractors do not get workers’ compensation coverage. In these cases, sorting out paying your bills will come down to working things out between you and the other driver involved in the accident. Coverage will come from your insurance or the personal auto insurance policy that the other driver maintains.
Who Was At Fault for the Accident?
If you were driving for work purposes and caused an accident, your employer might be responsible for covering the bills for both you and any other drivers involved in the accident.
An employer can be held liable for an employee’s careless or negligent conduct behind the wheel when the employee is completing work-related functions. Therefore, if you caused the accident or were even slightly at fault for the accident, you may look to your employer’s insurance instead of the other driver’s insurance.
Virginia’s pure contributory negligence rule makes things challenging. That’s because if you’re found to be even 1 percent at fault for the accident, you’ll need to claim the damages against your own insurance (or in the case of workplace accidents, your employer’s insurance) and not that of the other driver.
Call for a Free Consultation on Your Work-Related Accident
Wondering if your car accident might make you eligible for workers’ compensation coverage? Schedule a free consultation with Geoff McDonald & Associates. We’ll walk you through how to recover damages for your work-related car accident.