When most people think of workers’ compensation, they picture a work-related accident like falling or getting caught up in machinery. But more and more jobs now involve driving under the employee’s scope of work. That’s doubly true for the dramatic increase in delivery services from online shopping and restaurant orders following the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020.
If your job involves driving for a work-related reason – even if it’s on rare occasions – you’ll be glad to know that car accidents are covered by workers’ comp. But that doesn’t mean you can claim in every situation…
What does workers’ comp cover?
Workers’ compensation is an insurance policy carried by employers that compensates employees who sustain a workplace injury or contract an illness from on-the-job exposure. It provides benefits for medical expenses, lost wages, disabilities, and ongoing care to support an employee’s recovery – and death benefits for the family if the work-related accident is fatal.
With the exception of Texas, employers are legally required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. And employees don’t need to prove employer negligence (or that of any other party) to claim.
Workers’ comp is typically claimed for incidents such as:
- Slips, trips, and falls
- Injuries from lifting or handling objects
- Being struck by a falling object
- Injuries from moving machinery
- Repetitive strain injury
- Industrial deafness
- Inhaling toxic fumes
If you were injured while driving or riding a vehicle for a work-related reason, you may also be able to file a workers’ comp claim.
When can I claim for a work-related car accident?
Not all types of workplace injuries or illnesses are covered by workers’ compensation. You can only claim for those that are sustained within your scope of employment.
If you want to claim workers’ comp for a car accident, you must have been working and performing a job-related task at the time of your injury. This might include:
- Making a delivery
- Running a work-related errand
- Driving from one worksite to another
- Traveling for a work-related reason for which you’ll receive compensation (such as attending off-site training)
- Driving another employee for business purposes
- Using a company vehicle in the course of other job duties
- Providing transportation for customers as an employee (e.g. taxi drivers, bus drivers)
However, you can’t claim workers’ comp for a work-related accident that occurs outside of your paid hours or while deviating from regular work duties. So you can’t claim for a car accident that occurred during your commute to or from work, or during your lunch break.
That said, there are certain exceptions. For example, if you stopped on your way to work to pick up office supplies and were then involved in a car accident, you could be eligible for compensation.
Can Uber and Lyft drivers claim workers’ compensation?
Ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft pay drivers to provide transportation services. But these drivers aren’t actually employed – they’re independent contractors. Therefore, they’re not covered under workers’ compensation.
However, in 2018, Uber launched a Partner Protection program that insures eligible partners against the financial costs of life-changing events. That includes injuries sustained while drivers are logged into the Uber app. As an expert in automobile accident and personal injury claims, Phalen Law is available to help rideshare contractors file for medical expenses and lost income following a work-related accident.
Can I still claim if I was at fault?
Yes, you can. Unlike personal injury protection (PIP), for which most states use an at-fault system, workers’ compensation always operates on a no-fault basis. That means you don’t need to prove the other person’s responsibility to receive benefits and can still claim even if you were at fault.
Can I also file a separate car accident claim?
In addition to pursuing workers’ compensation, you may have the right to file a third-party claim against the driver who caused the accident as well. But be aware that most states operate on an at-fault system that requires you to prove that someone else was responsible.
Also, your employer or their insurance company might have a lien on any compensation you receive from a third party. This lien is a legally enforceable claim against your settlement that would require you to compensate them for their expenses. So if you received $5,000 in workers’ compensation benefits and $10,000 from your third-party claim, you might be required to give the initial $5,000 back.
Filing a separate third-party claim can increase your compensation, relieving the financial pressures of recovery. But handling a single insurance claim can be complex and stressful enough, let alone two at the same time. So if you want to make both a workers’ comp and a third-party claim, it’s vital that you hire an attorney who’s experienced in both areas of law.
Get the compensation you deserve with Phalen Law
If you were in a work-related car accident that occurred while you were performing your work duties, it’s highly likely that you’re entitled to workers’ compensation. But if you pursue this claim on your own, you might receive a much lower payout than you expect.
That’s because the main interest of insurance companies isn’t to make sure you’re well cared for. It’s to make sure they lose as little money as possible. And unless you’re intimately familiar with the workers’ comp laws in your state, it can be hard to make a valid case against them.
With over 50 years of experience in winning workers’ comp and automobile accident claims across Kansas and Missouri, the trial lawyers at Phalen Law are ready to help you build a powerful case. We have a detailed knowledge of workers’ comp laws and understand the policies that insurance companies use to limit your compensation. Our talented lawyers are prepared to handle all the complexities of your claim, leaving you to focus on recovering in peace.
Reach out to us today to discuss your case and complete our Free Case Evaluation form online to give us the details of your claim.