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I Was In Car Accident In A Company Vehicle
When people hear the term workers’ compensation, they often think of machine accidents or other injuries that occur on the employer’s premises. However, car and truck accidents that happened during the course of the workday while carrying out official job duties can also qualify as a work-related injury.
A workers’ compensation claim arising from an accident in a company vehicle or in your own vehicle while driving for work can be some of the most complex types to understand.
It is important to seek legal representation as soon as possible after your car accident on work time to ensure that you follow the proper procedures and that you receive the benefits you are entitled to and need while you recover. The first thing to understand is what is and is not covered under New York’s workers’ compensation system when it comes to motor vehicle accidents.
Does Workers’ Compensation Cover Car Accidents?
A car accident while driving for work falls within the category of respondeat superior. This legal term means that the employer bears responsibility for the injuries of an employee while he or she is acting within the scope of employment.
The situations below are common examples of a car accident on work time that would likely qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. These scenarios can happen in a company car or a personal car as long as they occur while carrying out official work duties. Examples include:
- Commuting to off-site jobs
- Transporting another employee of the company for business purposes
- Making a delivery for your employer
- Running an errand for your boss
- Other travel for which your employer reimburses you
Besides making you eligible for workers’ compensation, the rule of respondeat superior protects you from legal fees if you injure someone else and that person files a personal injury lawsuit. This is known as indemnification. The employer would also provide you with the funds to obtain an attorney to represent you in the lawsuit case.
Keep in mind that this is only a short list of possibilities. While you might not see your exact situation, the worker’s comp attorneys at Terry Katz & Associates are happy to evaluate your case.
When Doesn’t Workers’ Compensation Cover a Car Accident?
Just because you have a car accident while working, it does not mean that you will automatically receive workers’ compensation. This is true even when driving a company vehicle. For example, some employees have access to a company car 24 hours a day and would not qualify for workers’ compensation if they got into an accident while driving the car to run personal errands.
Here are some other common scenarios that might disqualify you from workers’ compensation after a car accident:
- Drunk driving and other criminal activity: An employer in New York is typically exempt from offering an injured employee indemnification if he or she used the car to complete a criminal act. Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a common example. Some other possibilities include committing a robbery, engaging in prostitution, or driving to purchase illegal drugs.
- Commuting to and from work: You are not officially on company time when you commute to work at the start of your shift and drive home at the end of it. You would need to file a claim for an accident that takes place during these hours with your personal insurance company or file a lawsuit against the other driver.
- Working as an independent contractor: Even when you are carrying out the duties of a business, you are technically self-employed when you work as an independent contractor. Be sure to read your contract carefully if you lease a vehicle to perform duties such as taxicab driver or driving a tractor-trailer. The language of the contract may release the company you work for from any liability if you get into a car accident on work time.
If I Caused the Accident, Is Workers’ Compensation Available?
Workers’ compensation in New York is a no-fault system. That means you do not have to prove that your employer was at fault and you can still file a claim even if your own negligence caused the accident. However, both you and your employer may be held responsible if others suffered damage due to your negligent actions. A third-party may choose to file a personal injury lawsuit against you and/or your employer. Those who might initiate such an action include bystanders, drivers, and passengers of other vehicles, and passengers in the company vehicle that you were driving.
Although it can be upsetting to be on the receiving end of a personal injury lawsuit, the good news is that the liability insurance of your employer should protect you from having to pay an injured third party.
Can I File a Lawsuit Against the Negligent Driver?
If you sustained injuries due to the negligence of another driver, you may be able to file a civil claim against him or her as well as file for workers’ compensation benefits. This may be appropriate if you suffer ongoing pain due to the accident as well as a significant change in your lifestyle. The reason for this is that you can only collect actual damages with workers’ compensation, which includes a percentage of your wages and all medical expenses.
With a personal injury claim, you may be able to recover costs associated with property damage as well as some more objective categories like pain and suffering.
The more severe your injuries and the greater the impact the accident had on your life, the more likely you are to receive these additional damages. Other common examples include emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of a physical relationship with your spouse.
Contact a Long Island Workers’ Comp Lawyer
The workers’ compensation insurance company representing your employer will respond to your initial request for benefits by mail. Many injured workers are shocked to receive a denial letter when they were expecting compensation.
Your employer may attempt to say that you should not receive benefits because you were using the vehicle in an inappropriate way. Even when the insurer approves your claim, you may find yourself experiencing delays, poor treatment, and other frustrations.
The workers’ compensation attorneys at Terry Katz & Associates have years of experience helping injured workers in your situation. Please contact us at 888-488-7459 to request a free review of your case today.