Some jobs require plenty of travel by car. If this pertains to you, you may be wondering what would happen after an unfortunate car accident while on the job.
Car accidents happen every day, so it is essential to know your rights as an employee driving on the job.
Georgia Workers’ Compensation
Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance for employees that provides compensation after a work-related injury. By law, any business with three or more employees must have workers’ compensation insurance. If you are unsure whether you have workers’ compensation coverage, talk to your employer.
When Is a Car Accident Considered “Work-Related?”
A car accident is “work-related” if you were acting within the scope of your employment at the time it occurred. This all depends on the type of job you have, but work tasks may include:
- Making deliveries;
- Driving between work sites;
- Running work-related errands;
- Driving your employer; and
- Travel that your employer pays for.
Tasks not considered work-related include:
- Personal errands;
- Traveling to and from work; and
- Lunch breaks.
If you are completing a task that is directly related to your job, or your employer assigns a specific task, it will more than likely be considered work-related.
Deviations from Work-Related Tasks
If your employer assigned a task but you deviate from this task, it will no longer be considered work-related. For example, if your employer asks you to run a work errand, but on the way you decide to run a personal errand and get into an accident, this would be considered a deviation.
In this situation, you would not be able to file a workers’ compensation claim, because you were injured while completing a task that fell outside of the scope of employment.
Work-Related Car Accidents—Who Is Responsible?
Many factors determine fault in a car accident, including driver distraction, speeding, or impairment. Typically, all factors leading up to the accident are taken into account to determine who is at fault. In regular car accident cases, determining who is at fault is imperative.
Georgia’s workers’ compensation is no-fault, meaning that an employee can receive benefits no matter who is at fault for the accident.
However, since workers’ comp provides only certain benefits like medical expenses, proving fault may be essential to recovering damages against another negligent driver. Proving the other driver’s fault may cover certain damages not covered by workers’ comp, like pain and suffering.
Will Workers’ Comp Cover My Injuries?
Workers’ compensation is available only for those who suffer an injury while on the job. Therefore, the same applies to car accidents. If the car accident was work-related, workers’ comp will cover expenses related to the accident. Workers’ comp offers limited benefits, including:
- Medical benefits,
- Temporary disability benefits, and
- Permanent disability benefits.
You will receive workers’ comp as long as the accident occurred while on the job.
If the accident was not work-related, you will not be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
What If I Get into an Accident While Driving My Personal Vehicle for Work?
Many times, employers will provide employees with company vehicles, but this is not always the case.
Whether the car accident occurs in a company vehicle or your personal vehicle, you will still be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits for your injuries. As long as you are on the clock during the accident, it does not matter whether the car is company-owned or a personal vehicle.
However, workers’ compensation won’t pay for your damaged vehicle. You will need to pursue a claim through your insurance or the other driver’s insurance to get your personal vehicle repaired or replaced.
Rights for Those Injured by Employee Drivers
If you suffered an injury in a car accident caused by a negligent employee driver, you may be able to recover from their employer. To receive compensation for your injuries, certain elements must first be proven.
If you suffer an injury in a car accident with an employee driver, the employer can be liable for the employee’s accident.
Employer-employee relationships fall under the doctrine of vicarious liability. Under this doctrine, an employer can be held responsible for an employee’s conduct or actions. For vicarious liability to apply, two circumstances must exist:
- The person responsible is an actual employee; and
- The employee’s conduct—in this case, a car accident—occurred within the scope of employment.
In other words, if the person responsible is an independent contractor or the accident occurred outside the scope of employment, the employer will not be held responsible.
Aside from proving these two elements, you would also have to prove that the employee was negligent. If all of these elements are satisfied, the employer will be vicariously liable.
If an employer is responsible, you will be able to recover damages for the car accident. Damages for a car accident can include:
- Medical treatment,
- Medical expenses,
- Pain and suffering, and
- Lost wages.
The employer’s insurance will typically cover the damages from the accident.
When to Contact a Georgia Attorney
Work-related car accidents are unlike regular car accidents. They can be difficult to navigate, especially if you need to prove that the accident occurred while on the job. Your workers’ compensation claim may even be challenged or denied. An experienced attorney will review your case and advise you of your options.
The Pritchard Injury Firm aims to provide clients with the highest and most professional experience. Zach Pritchard is a decorated attorney who has received recognition for his passion and dedication to his community and its residents. He is committed to helping his clients seek the justice they deserve. Contact us, and let’s see how we can help you.