Whether you're facing a legal issue or just seeking information, Justipedia aims to be your most trusted resource for legal information on the Web. With the help of legal professionals across the country, we put the law in plain language to help answer your top legal questions.
Justipedia was founded by Internet veterans Cory Janssen and Mitchell Allen. Janssen founded Investopedia.com and grew it one of the largest investing sites on the Web. Allen is an author, speaker and the founder of LeadRival, the leading provider of pay-per-action advertising in consumer legal services. Full Bio
Can I get workers' compensation for a car accident that happened on the way to work?
The simple answer to this question is generally a no. Workers' compensation cases are similar to standard personal injury cases in the sense that the totality of the circumstances have to be considered for each claim. The workers' compensation insurance protection requirement derives itself from federal law, and is administrated at the state level. Each state is therefore required to establish a workers' compensation review board, which determines the validity of each claim.
Every employer in the state with a certain number of employees is required to provide workers' compensation insurance for employees with an approved insurance carrier. Some states only allow one workers' compensation insurance company to operate within its boundaries, but there are some cases when a car accident while commuting to work could be a covered accident injury.
Scope of Employment
The test that determines the validity of a workers' compensation case is actually a two-prong evaluation. The injury must occur through an accident arising out of, and in the course of, employment. Hence, there can be instances where driving to work can be considered a covered injury. Running errands for the employer on the way to work can also be considered a valid workers' compensation injury.
Additionally, many management workers are salaried employees who may technically be on duty at any time, thus increasing the scope of their duties. Some states set no limits on worked hours for salaried company employees. Given the right situation, accidents in a company car can also be judged as work-related injuries. It is important to remember that all cases are unique in their own right, and all facts may have some type of impact in evaluating a claim.
Exempt Employees and Workers' Compensation
Some employees are exempt from initiating a workers' compensation insurance claim, and some states have actually listed entire crafts, ranging from domestic workers to real estate agents, and have also limited the legal right of many contracted workers.
These employees still have the right to file a personal injury claim through the civil court system, and may stand a good chance of winning a standard claim in many situations. Lost wages could potentially be recoverable for these employees, but not through the workers' compensation program.
Salaried workers are often considered on duty continuously, and could be eligible for workers' compensation in many circumstances. This includes driving a company vehicle within the scope of employment duty.
Salaried workers are also often employed under an individual contract with the company, which could also spell out in no uncertain terms if the injured employee is on duty or on call at all times. The employee would still need to prove that the injury was the result of an accident, but duty time could present an argumentative claim for the plaintiff's attorney.
Auto Accident Cases
Legal claims for injuries resulting from an automobile accident could also include multiple respondents in certain situations. The employer may not be required to pay the injured employee through the workers' compensation insurance program, but all accidents carry the potential for revealing negligent parties.
Accidents involving injury that occur while an employee is going to work can be a very complicated situation for the workers' compensation system. However, common legal standing to sue is still present in this scenario, and just because workers' compensation is not applicable does not mean that lost wages are no longer recoverable.
Lost wages are one of the primary damages that are recoverable in an auto accident, and also accidents that occur while commuting to work. In addition to non-economic financial damages, lost wages can be recovered in the personal injury settlement,. These are not recoverable with standard workers' compensation.
It is almost a requirement for any individual filing for workers' compensation to retain an attorney for proper benefit distribution in any work-related injury case. Not only can the employer fight the claim, but the responsible insurance company also has a right to legal input. There are always multiple respondents in any workers' compensation claim, and it is always a good idea to get an experienced and effective workers' compensation attorney to evaluate your claim.