If you have been involved in a work-related car accident, you may have a number of questions about who can be held liable for your injuries, damages and losses. In such situations, a number of parties could be held potentially liable for damages including another driver who caused the crash. Because these types of accidents can get complicated and may involve a number of different parties, it is important to contact an experienced Los Angeles work injury lawyer right away to explore your legal rights and options.
What is a Work-Related Car Accident?
If you were driving during work as part of your job, and were injured in the accident, it would be considered a work-related car accident in California. So, your employer is responsible for compensating you through the company's workers' compensation insurance if you were on the road within the scope of your employment.
Under California law, "scope of employment" means the accident must have occurred while you were performing work as part of your job. For example, if you were driving a company vehicle to make a delivery and you were injured while completing that task, that falls under the normal scope of employment. This is also true if you are a marketing manager driving to meet a client, or for other workers who drive to off-site meetings.
Is Driving to Work Considered Work-Related?
In general, the answer to this question is "no." If you were involved in a car accident while driving home from work, that is generally not considered within the scope of your employment, and therefore not covered by workers' comp. This may also apply when you are driving during lunch break of if you were running personal errands during work hours.
But there are exceptions to these rules. If, for example, you were running an errand for your employer during your commute in to work, that is within the scope of your employment. If you are unsure whether your car accident was work-related, contact an experienced Los Angeles work injury lawyer who is well-versed with the regulations relating to workers' compensation and work injury claims in California.
How Common Are Work-Related Car Accidents?
Work-related car accidents are some of the most common causes of major or catastrophic injuries. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), two out of five car accidents are work-related. Also, 24% of work-related fatalities occur as a result of car accidents. Work-related vehicle accidents also take a financial toll. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that work-related vehicle accidents cost employers over $39 billion each year. Some of the professions that have the most work-related vehicle accidents include:
- Delivery truck drivers
- Commercial truck drivers
- Emergency responders including police officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians or EMTs.
What Does Workers' Compensation Cover?
If you sustained injuries in a work-related car accident, you may be entitled to workers' comp benefits, which includes medical expenses and a portion of your lost wages. However, it may not cover losses such as lost future income, loss of life's enjoyment, loss of companionship and pain and suffering.
Employees Versus Independent Contractors
If you have been injured in a car accident as an independent contractor, then you may not be covered under workers' compensation because you are not a full-time employee, but work on a contract basis. However, you are free to sue the employer if your employer's negligence caused your crash. Another scenario where you can seek workers' compensation is if your employer has misclassified you as a contractor.
What to Do After a Car Accident at Work?
There are a number of steps you can take after a car accident at work, including crashes involving a company vehicle:
- Call for help. While you need medical care, you also want to call 911 to make sure police respond to the accident. This will generate a report that could contain a number of crucial details that could help your work injury claim.
- Collect information and evidence at the scene. Make sure you take photos and video of the accident scene and the damaged vehicles. Collect critical information including the driver's name, their employer, license plate number, an employee identification number (if available) and proof of insurance.
- Get prompt medical attention for your injuries. Be sure to seek prompt medical attention and care for your injuries. This helps ensure that you are on the road to recovery and also have documentation that shows the injuries you suffered and the treatment you received.
- Fill out an accident report. You should make sure the company that owns the commercial vehicle fills out an accident report. This should be done in addition to a police report.
- Determine fault. This is one of the most important steps after a work-related car accident. Your work injury lawyer can help determine fault and liability for the collision.
Why Should I Hire a Lawyer?
There are a number of legal issues that could arise after a work-related car accident in California. An experienced work injury lawyer can help you make an informed decision. Depending on the facts and circumstances of your case, you may be able to seek workers' comp benefits or file a personal injury lawsuit or third-party claim against a party other than your employer.
The experienced Los Angeles work injury lawyers at Greenberg & Ruby Injury Attorneys, APC have helped a number of workers in California stand up for their rights and secure maximum compensation for their losses. Call us today for a free consultation and comprehensive case evaluation.