Who Pays for Damages in Work-Related Car Accidents?
July 7, 2021
Driving is a significant part of the job for many workers. Workers’ Compensation typically pays for damages, such as medical expenses and lost wages when employees get into work-related car accidents. However, injured workers may also be able to sue third parties who are found to be liable for damages stemming from their injuries. An experienced lawyer can be invaluable in these situations.
When is a Car Accident Work-Related?
In many instances, it is easy to determine if a car accident is work-related and therefore covered by Workers’ Compensation. This is typically the case for truck drivers, delivery persons, bus drivers, and others for whom driving is their primary job responsibility.
There are other types of car accidents that may also be considered work-related depending on the circumstances, including but not limited to the following:
- Car accidents in the employer’s parking lot.
- Accidents that happen while traveling between office locations or job sites during a work shift.
- Accidents that occur when an employee is traveling to employer-mandated appointments or meetings.
However, there are instances in which an employee’s accident is not considered work-related, including but not limited to the following:
- Commuting to work. There may be exceptions if an employer specifically asks an employee to run a work-related errand on the way to work.
- Driving to an after-hours social event. There may be exceptions if the employer is requiring the worker to attend the social event for a business meeting.
According to the Global Business Travel Association, more than one million workers travel each day as part of their job. Whether it is a trucker driving a tractor trailer or an office worker going across town to another company location, employees are more likely to be injured if they drive during their workday.
What Should I Do if I am Injured in a Work-Related Car Accident?
Employees who are injured in a work-related car accident should immediately call 911 and obtain medical treatment. It is equally important to give notice of injury to an employer, as this is what triggers an employer’s obligation to pay Workers’ Compensation benefits. Injured workers must tell their employer the date and time of the accident and provide a description of their injuries. Seeing a doctor or going to the hospital is the best way to obtain the medical records needed for documenting a Workers’ Compensation claim. It is also worth mentioning that telling a union representative is not considered the same as giving notice to a supervisor or Human Resources (HR) department.
Some workers may be tempted to refuse medical treatment in order to complete the task they were doing when the accident occurred. This is not a good idea because car accident injuries often surface later. Any delay in giving notice of injury may give an employer’s insurance company reason to minimize or deny a subsequent Workers’ Compensation claim.
Furthermore, under Pennsylvania law, workers must report their injury to their employer within 21 days of the injury date to be eligible for payments starting from the first date of disability. Injuries must be reported within 120 days of the injury. In any event, the safest course of action is to give notice as soon as possible. The longer an injured worker waits, the more likely it is that the employer will doubt the claim’s validity and fight it.
Does Workers’ Compensation Cover All Costs in Work-Related Car Accidents?
Workers’ Compensation is intended to provide injured workers with sufficient resources to maintain an adequate standard of living if they must miss work. However, in many cases, this amount of money covers only a portion of a worker’s lost wages. Since Workers’ Compensation is one of the only rights the injured worker has against the employer, it is most important for employees to understand their rights and make sure their employer meets its obligation under the law.
Why Should Employees Injured in Work-Related Car Accidents Hire a Lawyer?
Employees injured in work-related car accidents should hire a lawyer for several reasons, including the following:
- Employers may attempt to deny a Workers’ Compensation claim by arguing the car accident was not work-related.
- An employer’s insurance company may attempt to modify or reduce benefits by asserting that the worker is well enough to go back to work, or that subsequent pain is not related to the accident.
- Third parties may also be held negligible for the accident, giving the worker the right to sue for additional damages.
Hiring a lawyer can help ensure a positive outcome in each of these circumstances. There are multiple steps required to file a successful Workers’ Compensation claim, and an experienced lawyer can make the process easier. A lawyer can also review other types of settlements that may be possible outside of the scope of Workers’ Compensation.
When a serious work-related accident happens, someone other than the employer might be held liable. Making this determination requires careful investigation and legal skill. Third parties responsible for injuries may include contractors, vehicle manufacturers, premises owners, or others. In the case of a car accident involving trucks, third parties may include trucking companies, maintenance companies, or leasing companies.
In all instances, an early investigation can make the difference between no case and a successful recovery. It is not unusual for injured workers who do not contact a lawyer soon enough to lose their opportunity to make a successful case because witnesses forgot details about the accident or because evidence has been lost or destroyed. Contacting an experienced lawyer can initiate the investigation process, protect the worker’s rights, and ensure that responsible parties answer for the injury.
Why Contact Galfand Berger LLP?
The experienced lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP have deep knowledge of Workers’ Compensation law, and they are exceptionally well positioned to evaluate work-related car accident cases. The following two examples provide some insight into the results they have delivered to their clients over the years:
- Work-related car accident prevents employee from returning to his previous job. The client was a passenger in a company van carrying workers to an employer-mandated physical examination. He was severely injured when the van collided with another vehicle that ran a red light. The client’s employer initially argued that the accident was not work-related. Galfand Berger lawyers convinced the Workers’ Compensation carrier that the accident was indeed work-related. Later, the employer subsequently filed to modify the client’s Workers’ Compensation benefits, arguing that the client was well enough to return to his previous job. This is despite the fact that the client continued to experience severe back pain. Galfand Berger lawyers filed a Petition to Review to prove the debilitating extent of the client’s injuries and to allege that the initial calculation of benefits was lower than it should have been. The case was resolved at mediation, and the client obtained nearly $200,000 in a lump sum for wage compensation plus all reasonable medical expenses for two herniated discs.
- Traveling salesman suffers herniated disk in car accident. A previous client was injured in a collision at an intersection in the state of Delaware. The injury to his lower back required laminectomy surgery. Galfand Berger lawyers were able to settle the case with full tender of all available policies for $738,813.
Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP Protect the Rights of Clients Injured in Work-Related Car Accidents
Injured workers may not consult lawyers because they think they cannot sue or because they believe the accident may have been their fault. Contacting an experienced lawyer is the best way find out your rights under the law. The Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP have been protecting the rights of clients injured in work accidents for many decades. If you have been hurt in a work-related car accident, please reach out to us as soon as possible. We are here to help. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, call us at 800-222-USWA (8792) or contact us online. From our offices in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, Pennsylvania, we proudly serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including Allentown and Harrisburg.