How compensation works in an on-the-job auto accident while driving for work
Sooner or later, almost everyone will experience a car accident at some point in their lives. When it happens, it’s probably one of the worst days of your life. In the best circumstances, the collision will be minor, with no injuries, and quickly resolved by your insurance company.
But what if the accident happens at work or while you’re on the clock? In such cases, the matter becomes more complicated and confusing.
Take the issue of fault, for instance.
Arizona is an at-fault state when it comes to car accidents, meaning that liability for a collision is usually determined by the police officer—at least at first, before insurance adjusters and lawyers get involved. However, Arizona’s workers’ compensation law is a no-fault system, meaning you can still receive workers’ compensation benefits even if you caused the car accident (so long as you didn’t intentionally cause the accident).
On-the-job car accidents trigger a completely different set of legal issues, and it’s imperative that injured workers understand these distinctions. For this reason, we strongly recommend you meet with an experienced Arizona workers’ compensation attorney if you were in a car accident while driving for work.
At the Law Offices of Robert E. Wisniewski, we can make sure you receive full and fair compensation for your injuries. For 43 years, we have provided timely, dedicated representation to thousands of severely injured workers across Arizona.
Workers’ compensation is all we do, and we do it well.
Without professional representation, many injured workers fail to receive the justice and compensation they deserve.
When it comes to a job-related car accident, the insurance company has a team of lawyers working to try to reduce your compensation as much as possible.
It’s only fair that you have an expert on your side who will go to bat to protect your rights and fight to secure the compensation you deserve. Contact our Arizona work injury lawyers today to discuss your case. The consultation is free and there’s no upfront fees if you hire us to represent you. You only pay if we are successful in securing benefits for you and your family.
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Work-related car accident statistics
- Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of work-related deaths in the U.S.
- Work-related motor vehicle collisions aren’t just an issue for truck, bus, or taxi drivers. 55% of workers who died in 2017 were not employed in motor vehicle operator jobs.
- In 2013 alone, work-related crashes cost employers $25 billion.
- In 2017, 47% of pedestrian worker fatalities occurred in just a few occupations: heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers, construction (trades workers, laborers, and highway maintenance), and grounds maintenance workers.
- From 2003-2017, more than 27,000 workers in the U.S. died in a work-related motor vehicle crash.
Most dangerous professions for car accidents at work
Motor vehicle crashes are the 1st or 2nd leading cause of death in every major industry group, proving that it’s a risk regardless of where you work—whether it’s on a construction site or in an office. However, there are certain professions that experience higher rates of work-related car accidents than others.
The three top professions when it comes to on-the-job auto accidents include:
- Truck drivers. More than 1 in 3 long-haul truck drivers have experienced a serious truck crash during their career.
- First responders. 46% of all EMS provider fatalities were related to motor vehicle crashes during the 2013-2017 period. 100 firefighters died as a result of motor vehicle crashes between 2008-2017.
- Oil & gas workers. Motor vehicle crashes cause over 50% of work-related deaths in the oil and gas extraction industry.
Other occupations that experience higher rates of car accidents at work include:
- Construction laborers
- Wholesale and retail trade workers
- Agriculture workers
- Forestry workers
- Warehouse workers
- Grounds maintenance crew
- Delivery drivers
What is a “work-related” accident?
Generally, all “work-related” accidents are covered by workers’ compensation in Arizona—including car, truck and pedestrian collisions. According to Arizona law (A.R.S. 23-904), an Arizona employee is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if they sustain a “personal injury by accident arising out of and in the course of employment.”
A few examples of auto accidents at work that arise “out of and in the course of employment” include:
- If you’re running an errand for your employer or boss
- If you’re making deliveries
- If you drive for a living
- If you’re injured at your place of work
- If you’re transporting another employee
- If you’re traveling for work
- If you’re being paid by your employer for travel time to or from work
Arizona workers’ compensation benefits for car accidents
As long as you were performing a required duty or function of your job when the car accident occurred, you should qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.
These benefits include payment for:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Death benefits for surviving dependents (in the event of a fatal work-related car accident)
In Arizona, workers’ compensation does NOT provide reimbursement for property damage to your vehicle, nor does it provide payment for emotional damages (like pain and suffering). While property damage might be covered by your employer’s car insurance policy or your own car insurance policy, you’ll have to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver if you wish to obtain compensation for pain and suffering.
Depending on your case, you may be able to bring both a workers’ compensation claim and a civil (personal injury) claim. Even if you receive workers’ compensation benefits from your employer, you may still be able to seek additional damages from the driver who caused the work-related car accident.
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault insurance system in Arizona, which means you are entitled to these benefits even if the accident was your fault. The difficult part about car accidents at work is proving that the collision was indeed work-related and occurred in the scope of employment. To accomplish this, you may have to consult with an experienced work injury attorney near you.
Read more: How to Apply for Workers’ Comp
Car accident on the way to work
What if you get into a car accident while driving to or from work — is that covered by workers’ compensation?
Generally, most Arizona employees traveling to or from work aren’t eligible for workers’ compensation under the “coming-and-going rule.” This rule basically means that a worker going to or coming from work is not being paid during this time and the traveling isn’t considered in the “course of employment.” Therefore any injury that happens on the way to work or while performing other personal errands isn’t covered by your employer. In such cases, your best option will be to file a claim with your insurance company and file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver, if necessary.
There are a few exceptions to the “coming-and-going” rule where a car accident on the way to work might actually be covered by workers’ compensation. These exceptions are:
- Employment exemptions. If you’re a salesperson, nurse, or you work in another job that requires you to travel often as an integral part of your employment, then you should be eligible for workers’ compensation in the event a car accident. Likewise, if you’re an on-call employee and are called into work, then you are typically covered from the moment you get called in.
- Work errand. If you were in a collision while running an errand explicitly for your employer or boss—or for some other work-related reason—then you should be covered.
- Work vehicle. If you were in a crash while driving a company vehicle to or from work, then you should be covered by workers’ compensation.
- On/between premises. If you’re injured while on your employer’s premises or property (such as in the parking lot), you will generally be covered unless you were using an unsafe route. Also, if you were injured in a car accident while driving from one work location to another, you will generally be covered.
- Paid commute. If your employer is paying you for your commute to and from work, then you should be covered if you’re in an accident.
- Dual travel. If you’re traveling for both business and personal errands, you may be covered only if the business portion of the trip would have happened regardless of whether or not the personal errand took place.
Although these exceptions exist that allow an injured worker to receive workers’ compensation for a car accident that happened on the way to work, employers and insurers often deny these claims at first. They may deny your benefits, claiming the accident didn’t happen in the course of employment. In such cases, you’ll need to talk to an experienced Arizona workers’ compensation lawyer to appeal your claim and fight to secure your benefits.
Sued for a car accident while working
If you’re in a car accident while working, your medical bills and lost wages should be covered by workers’ compensation. But what about the other driver? Can the other driver sue you if you’re at fault in a car accident that happened while you were working?
Generally, your employer’s insurance protects you from being sued by a third party (the other driver or injured person) so you don’t have to pay damages out of your own pocket. If you get personally sued by the other driver, then your employer’s insurance will typically cover your legal fees.
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Our Arizona workers’ compensation attorneys can explain your rights
When it comes to job-related car accidents, it can be difficult to determine who is ultimately responsible for your medical bills, lost wages and other damages. Your employer’s insurance company has a team of lawyers representing them who will try to reduce your compensation as much as possible.
In addition, workers’ compensation laws vary from state to state. For these reasons, it’s in your best interest to consult an attorney near you who can look after your rights.
At the Law Offices of Robert E. Wisniewski, we can help secure the full and fair compensation you deserve. We will help you file an injury claim with the Industry Commission of Arizona and fight to appeal a denied claim if necessary. We’re prepared to use our experience, expertise, resources and passion to make sure you get the compensation you’re owed.
Why hire our Arizona workers’ comp lawyers?
- We understand the special needs of an injured worker
- Trained and helpful staff
- Personal attention to clients
- Calls promptly returned
- Clients kept up-to-date on case
- State-wide service
- Aggressive & experienced representation
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While our main law office is in downtown Phoenix, we handle workers’ compensation claims throughout Arizona – including Yuma, Kingman, Payson and Flagstaff.