What to do if you were injured by a drunk driver while working in Georgia
For many Georgia residents, driving is a regular part of their job. But the Peach State (as with many other states) has a serious problem when it comes to impaired and intoxicated drivers. So each year, there are a number of drunk driving car accidents involving someone who was on the clock and driving for work.
If you are injured by a drunk driver while performing your job, it can be hard to know how to get the compensation that you deserve. Workers’ compensation should be available to you, but should you instead sue the drunk driver?
The answer may be both—though it depends on the unique circumstances of your case.
While it’s in your best interest to consult with a Georgia attorney if you have questions about your rights following a work-related car accident, here is a general overview of what you should know about workers’ compensation for drunk driving car accidents.
Can you get workers’ compensation when you’re hurt by a drunk driver?
Most full and part-time employees in Georgia are eligible for workers’ compensation if they are hurt on the job. That means if you are hit by a drunk driver while driving for their job, workers’ compensation is meant to cover injuries that occur in the course and scope of employment. Since driving for work is generally part of the course of employment, you should be covered under this program and therefore you can make a claim for workers’ compensation just as you would if you were hurt in any other kind of accident at work.
Workers’ compensation applies regardless of fault, as long as the accident occurred while you were performing work in the course and scope of your employment. For some drivers, operating a motor vehicle is the very purpose of their employment. For example, a truck driver is in the driving business. As long as their employer is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, the truck driver is generally covered when they’re hurt while on the road.
Other employees drive from job to job or from one office to another. An example is a repair person who makes house calls. Other employees may only drive occasionally, like when they make a trip to the post office to send the office mail. Any of these activities may be covered as driving in the scope of employment when a drunk driving accident occurs.
What to do if you are hurt by a drunk driver while driving for your job
If you’re hurt by a drunk driver while at work, you will generally need to file a workers compensation claim. First, you should seek medical attention. The police and medical responders should investigate and provide care to anyone who needs it. Plus, the police can play a critical role in documenting the other driver’s behavior including preserving evidence for criminal charges and any civil claims to follow.
Next, you must notify your employer. Then, to file a claim, you’ll need to complete and submit form WC-14. The state workers’ compensation board receives a copy of this form, as well as the employer and their insurance carrier.
There are many procedures and reporting requirements to follow for obtaining medical care and submitting evidence. A workers’ compensation claim that involves a drunk driver should be processed in the normal way like any other workplace injury.
How much workers’ compensation benefits you are paid will depend on the extent of your injuries, lost work and medical care.
Generally, workers’ compensation is the only available remedy when someone is injured at work. However, if you were hit by a drunk driver, then you may have an additional legal option for recovery through civil court.
Can you sue the at-fault drunk driver?
In addition to receiving workers’ compensation, a drunk driving accident victim may also be able to sue the at-fault driver for an accident at work. Even if you already filed a workers compensation claim for a drunk driving accident, you may also be able to bring a third-party personal injury claim. But it’s important to understand that the burden of proof is higher in personal injury claims compared to workers’ compensation.
In a personal injury case, the responsible party (the defendant) all owe the victim (the plaintiff) financial compensation for the harm that they caused. This compensation may include pain and suffering and punitive damages, which are not available in a workers’ compensation claim.
Can you still get workers’ compensation if you were driving drunk while working?
In Georgia, being intoxicated or impaired on the job is likely to prevent a worker from receiving workers’ compensation benefits for a car accident. As long as the professional driver was a victim of someone else’s behavior, they can likely receive benefits. However, if they caused the drunk driving accident, then Georgia law generally allows employers to deny workers’ compensation coverage.
The violation of an employee rule provision is likely to prohibit any worker in Georgia from claiming workers’ compensation for their own accident or injury.
Can you get workers’ compensation for driving to and from work?
Generally, you cannot get workers’ compensation for any accident that happens while driving to or from work. This is known as the “going and coming” rule. Driving in the course of employment counts for workers’ compensation, but the commute is not considered part of the course and scope of your employment.
Have questions about a work-related drunk driving accident?
If you or a loved one were hurt by a drunk driver while at work, there may be multiple avenues of compensation available to you. However, you need to be sure to take the right steps to report the accident and make the necessary claims.
For starters, Gerber & Holder can help you pursue workers’ compensation benefits that may be available, as well as look into a third-party personal injury claim. We can help you evaluate all of your options and make the right decision for you and your family.