It’s a beautiful morning, and you are on your way to work. Life couldn’t get better, and all is well. Suddenly, you are involved in a car accident in the blink of an eye, an experience that leaves you traumatized, battling health and financial constraints.
With unforeseen medical bills piling up, permanent or temporary injuries, a possible loss of current or future income, and the extra cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle, you might feel overwhelmed with the financial burden caused by a crash where you were the innocent victim.
If this sounds familiar and you have suffered loss or damages due to a car accident while traveling to work, Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, the legal advocates for car accident victims, can:
- Advise you of your rights
- Help to shield you from liability
- Assist you with pursuing maximum compensation for your damages
Call our Chicago car accident law office at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today for immediate legal advice and schedule a free consultation.
Who Is Liable For A Car Accident While Traveling For Work?
In certain circumstances, your employer has a vicarious liability in an accident. In other words, he is liable for loss, injury, or damage of property in a car accident while you travel for work, whether you were at fault or not, such as:
- When you are working on the time clock
- When your driving formed part of a work-related activity
- When your driving was to perform an assignment delegated to you by your employer
- When your driving was part of a task that allowed your employer to benefit
You could file a workers’ compensation claim for your work injuries and lost wages and seek damages from the employer’s liability insurance in the above mentioned circumstances.
When Is My Employer Not Liable For A Car Accident?
In other situations, although your car accident occurred during work hours, your employer would not have vicarious liability. Certain circumstances like not performing a work-related task and running a personal errand, such as a doctor’s appointment or fetching your children from school, could remove the employer’s liability.
Traveling to and from your workplace is usually not categorized as work-related except if you were either off-site, or on a business trip, as part of your employment, or running a work-related errand for your employer on the way to or from work.
When is an Employer Liable for a Company Car Accident?
The laws governing car accidents involving a company vehicle are different in every state. However, an employer may be liable for commercial car accidents when:
- The fleet of company vehicles has not been maintained, or safety inspections carried out
- Adequate training was not provided to drivers by the employer
- When employees were not required to be properly licensed or certified
- When employers pressure employees to violate the law or Federal Motor Carriers Safety Association (FMCSA) regulations, for example, by allowing them to drive more work hours than is permitted
Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim
There are a few legal options open to injured employees, and often these options can be confusing and overwhelming. It is best to seek legal help from a law firm that can assist you in weighing the pros and cons, enabling you to make the best decision for your set of circumstances.
Workers Compensation (Workers Comp) Claim
Workers’ compensation benefits are available for all employees injured at work, including injuries sustained in a car accident while traveling for work and work-related.
All medical bills, medical and vocational rehabilitation sustained from work-related accident injuries, and any loss of income while recovering are covered by workers’ compensation.
The employee could receive workers’ compensation benefits if an employee sustained injuries in a car accident while traveling for work in a personal car instead of a company car, and the traveling was work-related.
What Is Covered By Workers Compensation?
Workers’ compensation benefits only include payment for medical treatment and lost income, up to a maximum threshold. Pain and suffering, property loss, or damage are not under the workers’ comp coverage.
Workers’ compensation claims are filed according to state law protocol. Employers either file the workers’ comp benefits paperwork with the state agency after the accident, or the employee lays a claim with the state’s workers compensation agency or appeals board.
Employer Liability And Personal Liability
Employer’s liability covers any claims submitted by a third party. The employer’s liability insurance aims to safeguard the employee against damages brought against them in a work-related car accident.
The employer’s liability insurance covers any legal fees the employee may incur when sued by a third party.
Personal injury lawsuits also cover property damage or loss to a personal vehicle or belongings and damages for pain and suffering. A personal injury lawsuit is filed through the local civil court system.
The deadline to pursue compensation in personal injury lawsuits depends on the statute of limitations filing deadline of that state, which is never less than a year, to two or three years, from the date of the accident.
Carrying Additional Insurance
It is always wise to invest in additional insurance coverage for property loss and damage. Every employer or company should have a commercial insurance policy, where loss or damage of a company vehicle and property can be claimed.
Employees can also file a claim against their personal vehicle insurance for any loss or damage to their vehicle and property when involved in a work-related car accident. Ensure that the additional ‘rider’ insurance coverage is included, providing extra coverage when using a personal vehicle for business purposes.
Without the ‘rider’ coverage, the insurance company can refuse to pay out any damages for the accident. Texas drivers have to have a ‘proof of financial responsibility’ whereby they have at least $30,000 coverage vehicle liability insurance.
When Will Commercial Insurance Companies Not Process a Claim?
There are circumstances where commercial insurance will not pay out a claim on company vehicles and property, despite being considered work-related:
- The driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- When the driver commits a crime, such as speeding
- The driver was running personal errands
- When the driver, as an independent contractor, used their personal vehicle, such as a delivery driver, external salesperson, caregiver, etc.
What To Do After A Work-Related Car Accident?
There are a few cardinal rules when you find yourself the victim of an accident that can greatly assist litigation later on down the line. The following must be addressed before you leave the scene of the accident:
- Call The Emergency Responders
First and foremost, tend to your injuries. Emergency responders can administer expert medical care to all the injured parties.
- Call The Police
A police officer will be called out to the scene and compile an accident report containing all the relevant information regarding the parties involved and the particulars of the accident. The police report is an invaluable example of evidence, often having a preliminary determination of fault.
- Call Your Employer
Your employer will often arrange for company employees to assist you while you are at the accident scene. Many employers have a law firm that handles all their litigation, and you can use their resources in claiming workers’ compensation benefits or a personal injury claim. Your employer can also start the process for workers’ comp insurance.
- Ensure That Insurance Information Is Exchanged
Use your cellphone to take a photo of the other driver’s license, insurance card, and license plate number. If the other driver was in a company vehicle, ask for the company or employer’s name.
- Take Photos Of The Accident Scene.
Use your cellphone to document the crash scene. Collecting evidence on the scene is crucial. Months later, the evidence could become lost, and the photos are an important example of reliable evidence. Write down and document where the vehicles were positioned.
- Obtain The Names Of Witnesses
Although the police should have the names of witnesses, it is better to get the names yourself. Ask for names, personal phone numbers, and email addresses.
What Not To Do After A Work-Related Car Accident
What injured workers say and do after an accident can often have far-reaching consequences for liability or compensation. The following must be avoided at all costs:
- Make No Apologies For The Accident or Accept Blame
It is almost the first thing on your mind when you look at the carnage around you, but don’t say you are sorry, especially if you are unsure or know you were not at fault. A ‘I did not see you’ can be used by car accident lawyers to show you were not paying attention.
- Don’t Exclude Personal Injury
After car accidents, accident victims might only experience minimal pain, but many injuries will only start presenting symptoms after a few hours or even the next day. If the other driver asks how you are feeling, reply that you will have your doctor check out your injuries—a wise course of action and a safe answer.
- Don’t Self-Diagnose Your Injuries
Avoid relying on your online research for a diagnosis. Visit your doctor and follow advice. A doctor will X-ray your back and neck. If your injuries are not showing improvement, do not hesitate to reach out for a second opinion. A car accident attorney could claim your self-diagnosis worsened your injuries.
- Don’t Accept A Quick Settlement
It is easier said than done, especially when the bills need to be paid, but do not allow an insurer to exploit your vulnerability with a settlement offer that could be far less than your injuries are worth. When you accept a settlement, you renounce your right to sue the defendant for future catastrophic injury claims.
- Don’t Talk To An Insurance Adjuster Without Your Attorney Present
Your attorney has the combined experience of seeing how the insurers and the lawyers operate and can expertly advise you to protect your compensation rights.
In navigating the waters of a workers compensation claim (workers comp), a personal injury claim, or further compensation as an employee, whether you were traveling using a company vehicle or a personal car, let the law offices assist you in making an informed decision.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer to Resolve Your Compensation Claim
Were you injured or suffered property loss in a car crash? Contact a car accident lawyer as soon as possible, and allow them to protect your rights and get the compensation you deserve. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our law firm remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC accept all serious personal injury claims and wrongful death lawsuits on a contingency fee agreement. This arrangement ensures our clients have legal representation immediately without paying any upfront costs.
Our law firm advances all expenses involved in resolving a car accident claim and gets paid only when negotiating a settlement or winning a jury trial award. Our “No-Win/No-Fee” Guarantee is simple: We do not get paid if you do not win! Call (888) 424-5757 now for a free case consultation.