Work-related car accidents
Expert advice from experienced Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyers
If you’re involved in a car accident, you could experience serious injuries in addition to damage to your vehicle and other personal property. In the event that the crash occurred while you were performing job duties, your employer will most likely be required to pay for your medical expenses and lost wages under Georgia’s workers’ compensation law. Since workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, you should be covered by workers’ compensation and receive benefits if an accident occurred while you were working, even if the accident was your fault, as long as you weren’t under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
After being hurt in an accident that occurred while working, you’ll want to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits by reporting the accident to your employer immediately.
If you cannot return to work, you may be entitled to receive benefits on a long-term basis. Furthermore, you may be entitled to federal disability benefits. Unfortunately, the workers’ compensation process isn’t always as easy as it should be.
Sometimes, an employer or their insurance company decides to deny benefits. In the case of on-the-job car accidents, two of the most common areas of dispute are:
- Whether or not the injured worker is an actual employee who is eligible for workers’ compensation (versus an independent contractor or freelancer)
- Whether or not the accident and injuries were work-related
In either circumstance, our Georgia workers’ compensation attorneys can fight to get you the compensation you deserve by proving that you’ve been misclassified and that your accident was indeed work-related.
Contact us today for your free consultation.
When is a car accident “work-related”?
Generally speaking, you may be covered by workers’ compensation if you are an employee (and therefore eligible for workers’ compensation), were on the clock, and the accident occurred while you were:
- running an errand for your boss or employer
- making deliveries
- transporting another employee
- traveling for work and have no fixed office
- commuting to or from work and are compensated by your employer for travel time
- Nearly 40% of motor vehicle accidents are work-related, which poses a significant risk to employees who drive for their jobs.
- From 2003-2017, more than 27,000 workers in the U.S. died in a work-related motor vehicle crash.
- Motor vehicle crashes are the 1st or 2nd leading cause of death in every major industry group.
Typically, you’re not able to collect workers’ compensation benefits for a car accident that occurred while you were commuting to or from work, or any accidents that occur during your lunch break and while you’re “off the clock.” The exception to this rule is if you are involved in a crash while on the way to work to pick up supplies for the office or grab a coffee for your boss who specifically asked you to do so.
Who’s at fault for the car accident?
There are many factors that could determine whether you were at fault for an accident. For instance, if you were talking on the phone, speeding or impaired, you could be considered negligent in allowing the accident to happen. In a regular car accident case, fault is an important step to determining whose insurance company pays for damages.
However, in the event of a work-related car accident, liability isn’t as important. This is because Georgia workers’ compensation operates under a no-fault system, meaning you should be covered by workers’ compensation, even if the accident was your fault.
It is important to note, though, that your employer isn’t liable for an accident just because it took place in a company vehicle.
When the crash took place, you must have been performing a task for the benefit of the company. For instance, if you were delivering a pizza to a customer, that would be something benefiting your employer. However, if you were simply going out to lunch in a truck that your boss owned, that wouldn’t count as an accident occurring while at work.
For this reason, it may be necessary to hire a workers’ compensation attorney to represent you and prove that you were performing work-related duties when the accident occurred.
Car accident damages: Beyond workers’ compensation
If you have been seriously injured in a work-related car wreck and your damages exceed what workers’ compensation is willing to pay, then you may be eligible to receive more than just workers’ compensation.
In these cases, you’ll likely need to file a third-party personal injury claim with your own insurance company or with the at-fault driver’s insurance company to seek additional compensation.
You also may be able to sue for non-economic damages like pain and suffering, which is not covered under workers’ compensation.
For example, let’s say your delivering pizza for work when a drunk driver crashes into you. Your employer may provide workers’ compensation benefits to you for medical expenses and missed days at work. But what about the emotional distress the accident caused you? What about the pain and suffering you experienced? What about punitive damages?
Since workers’ compensation insurers aren’t obligated to cover these damages under Georgia law, you may have to file a third-party lawsuit. Even if you accept workers’ compensation benefits from your employer, you still have the right to seek damages from the driver who caused the car accident.
What to do after a work-related car crash
The moments after a car accident can be hectic, but what you do (and don’t do) in the seconds, minutes and days after a crash can have long-term consequences and determine whether or not you receive compensation. Follow these steps to secure the best possible outcome:
Just like any type of car accident, be sure to stop and dial 911. Wait until police, firefighters or ambulance arrive on the scene to give emergency medical treatment (if needed) and file a police report.
Get medical help
If you are hurt in an on-the-job car accident, it is important that you see a doctor as soon as possible. Depending on the severity of your injuries, you may be transported to the hospital for immediate treatment.
Notify your boss
As soon as you get the chance, be sure to inform your employer about the accident as well as any injuries that you sustained. This will allow the employer to open an injury report and begin the workers’ compensation process.
Consult a lawyer
Don’t hesitate to contact an attorney if you have any questions about your case or believe your employer isn’t cooperating at any point in the workers’ compensation process.
Types of injuries covered by Georgia workers’ compensation claims
If you’re injured on the job, you should know that you have certain rights, benefits and responsibilities.
Our record of winning car accident cases in Georgia speaks for itself:
Contact an Atlanta workers’ compensation attorney today
Work-related car accident cases are particularly complex. Injured workers may be able to seek compensation from multiple sources — including their own employer’s workers’ compensation benefits. However, understanding the benefits you are entitled to and navigating the complex legal process can be a challenge. One mistake can result in a denial of benefits or your claim being dismissed.
Whether you’re a first responder, bus or truck driver, delivery driver, taxi or other employee who was injured in a car accident while you were on the clock, it’s vital that you take the right steps now to secure sufficient compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. There are statute of limitations on both workers’ compensation and personal injury cases which means you only have a limited time to seek payment for your work-related car accident damages.
Our Atlanta attorneys are national leaders in workers’ compensation litigation with decades of experience. Insurance companies have skilled attorneys representing them, and so should you. Best of all, you don’t have to pay us a penny unless we win your case, so there’s no cost to learning about your rights.