Work-Related Motor Vehicle Accidents – What You Need to Know
Work-Related Motor Vehicle Accidents | What You Need to Know
When an injury threatens your ability to work and earn a living, it can throw your entire life off balance. Navigating a work injury can be a learning process for employees and employers. With the correct information, this process should be smooth and effective. Let’s explore work-related motor vehicle accidents and how to best choose your course of care to get you back to work safely.
Is the Employer Responsible for a work-related motor vehicle accident?
Safe driving in the workplace is the responsibility of both the employer and the employee driving the vehicle. Depending on the state rules and regulations, in a non-work-related accident, the driver at fault or their insurance company is liable to pay for the damages. However, when a car accident involves a work vehicle or occurs when the employee is driving their personal vehicle for work-related purposes, the issue of liability can get complicated. If the accident occurred while the employee was on the clock and performing their work-related duties, the employer is often responsible.
However, rules such as the “going and coming” rule, are put in place to prevent the employer from bearing responsibility. This includes:
- When the employee is off the clock, including driving to and from work
- Other breaks
- If they are using their work vehicle to run personal errands.
What Actions should an Employee take after a motor vehicle accident occurs?
Getting into a motor vehicle accident can be stressful, traumatic, and chaotic. Regardless of who is at fault for the accident, it’s essential to check the following boxes to ensure your safety is top priority:
- Stay calm
- Assess the situation – are you ok or in further immediate danger?
- If anyone else is in the car, are they ok?
- Immediately call 911 for help and seek medical attention.
- If you are conscious and able, ensure you speak directly with the police and have them document an accident report.
As with any other motor vehicle accident, it is a good idea to take photos or videos of the accident to document the damages to the vehicle if you are able. If another party is involved, make sure you collect:
- Their name
- Contact information
- Driver’s license number
- Insurance policy and expiration date
- Vehicle details
- License plate number
- Contact information for any witnesses at the scene
Once you are safe, you should call your direct supervisor immediately to report the incident and notify your human resource department. In addition to the police report, you will want to file an incident report directly with your company.
An individual’s well-being and safety are the top priority. If the licensed medical responder recommends seeking additional care, please do so. You should attend any follow-up medical appointments, as failing to do so can have a negative impact on a workers’ eligibility for compensation. Waiting to seek medical care or failing to attend a scheduled or requested medical appointment could cause others to question the legitimacy of the injury in the first place. Additionally, seeking medical care and attending follow-up appointments ensures that an official record exists documenting the existence of the injury.
Who is Responsible for payment during a work-related motor vehicle accident?
There are a few layers to who is responsible for payment when an employee performs a work-related driving task, using a work vehicle or their personal vehicle, during their scheduled work shift, and is in a motor vehicle accident. The employer’s Workers’ Compensation insurance will cover the costs of the employee’s injuries, including costs associated with:
- Hospital visits
- Physical and occupational therapy
- Wage replacements from time away from work.
If you sustained a work-related injury during your work shift in your personal vehicle, you would still be eligible for workers’ compensation. However, the employer is not liable for your personal vehicle, and you would need to use your own auto insurance coverage. If you drive your personal vehicle during your work shift for work-related duties, it is a good idea to investigate additional policies to protect yourself and your vehicle, such as investing in additional coverage called a rider. Rider coverage can be added to your existing plan and assists with covering damage to your personal vehicle.
If the work-related motor vehicle impacts a third party who is not affiliated with the company, then in most cases, the employer’s liability insurance pays that person’s medical bills, lost wages, and suffering.
Liability insurance protects the employee directly, so they are not liable to pay for the third party’s care. It will also cover the employee’s legal fees in case of litigation.
Companies that own work vehicles will have a commercial vehicle policy, similar to your personal auto policy, and will cover all costs associated with the vehicle damage and repairs. It is your employer’s responsibility to ensure vehicles are safe to drive and are in good working condition. All vehicles should be checked on a routine basis and undergo regular maintenance.
If you are required to drive during your work shift, your employer should ensure you have appropriate driving licenses and certificates that may be necessary and provide adequate training to ensure safe driving while at the workplace.
Work-related injuries do NOT include:
- Driving your work vehicle or personal vehicle outside of your scheduled work shift
- On lunch break
- Running personal errands
- If you commit a crime (i.e., speeding or other traffic violations, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol)
If you are unsure of what type of policies and employee protection your company offers or to learn more about your state-specific rules and regulations, it is a good idea to speak directly with your company’s human resource department to learn more.
We’re Here for You
Whether you sustained a work-related injury or were involved in a non-work-related motor vehicle accident, We are here for you. Our trained physical and occupational therapists will be able to evaluate your injuries and develop a plan of care to improve your overall health and optimize your level of function. Your recovery is important to us, and we are here to help.
Article By Ashley Catapano, DPT, CCI, CEAS I, II, CIRS, FCE Evaluator
Director of Workers Compensation & Industrial Services
Ashley began her Physical Therapy career 16 years ago. Ashley’s clinical passion involves treating patients who have sustained work-related injuries. She has extensive training in Workers’ Compensation, Industrial Services, Employer Wellness, Injury Prevention, and Occupational Medicine population. She believes in providing outcomes-orientated solutions for musculoskeletal care and pain management. She places a high emphasis on safe, effective return to work for injured workers. She currently specializes in Workers’ Compensation and Industrial Services. She serves as Ivy Rehab’s Director of Workers Compensation & Industrial Services.
The medical information contained herein is provided as an information resource only, and does not substitute professional medical advice or consultation with healthcare professionals. This information is not intended to be patient education, does not create any patient-provider relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis, treatment or medical advice. Please consult with your healthcare provider before making any healthcare decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition. If you think you have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. IvyRehab Network, Inc. disclaims any and all responsibility, and shall have no liability, for any damages, loss, injury or liability whatsoever suffered as a result of your reliance on the information contained herein.