Approximately 5% of the workforce in the United States experiences work related injuries each year. A vast majority of these are related to transportation. In fact, 40% of all work-related accidents were related to transportation in 2017.
About 4.5% of these total accidents are fatal. People in the following industries have a high percentage chance of being in a work-related car accident:
- Police, Firefighters, EMTs
- Taxi Drivers
So, what happens if you or a loved one has been involved in a work-related car accident?
- What should you do first?
- Who is at fault?
- Are you entitled to compensation?
- How much can it be worth?
- How do you go about receiving compensation?
If you have been in a car accident while driving for work, we at Anderson Hemmat understand your concern for your professional and financial safety. That is why we are addressing all of these questions and more, to give you a solid understanding of what to do next in your situation.
What should you do if you are involved in a car accident while at work?
The first thing you need to do if you are involved in a work-related car accident, is to determine who was at fault. This lays the foundation for determining who is financially responsible. If, for example, you were driving along the highway obeying all of the posted signs and laws, but you were involved in a rear-end accident, your company would likely file a claim with the insurance provider of that other driver in order to get compensation for any damage to the company vehicle.
Similarly, if you sustained personal injuries from the accident and you were on the clock, your employers’ workers’ compensation would be responsible for covering your medical bills and part of your lost income. In some situations, you can be entitled to file a third party claim against the driver who was at fault. If you were the person at fault, the other driver can bring a claim against you or, in most situations, your company.
This depends on a few factors:
- Company policies
- State laws
- Other factors
Because the legal landscape can be difficult to navigate, we strongly recommend speaking with a legal representative to make sure that you have the best chances of being represented properly and given the best chance to not be hurt financially or professionally by your accident.
Who is at fault in a work related car accident?
Work-related car accidents get particularly complicated, especially in the state of Colorado which is considered an “at fault” state. The laws for car accidents (while working) require the parties to first determine who is at fault to know which insurance policies are responsible for compensation.
Determining fault requires evidence that one of the drivers has acted negligently, resulting in the accident.
Negligence means that a driver has knowingly disobeyed posted signs or rules of the road. If you are driving the speed limit, in the proper lane and another car is speeding when you collide, that could be considered negligence on their part. If another car caused an accident because they were texting, that would also be negligence. The same is true if the accident was your fault. It must be proven that you acted in a negligent fashion, and as a direct result of that action the car accident was caused.
What if I am involved in an accident in my personal car on company time?
This all depends on if you were doing something work related or not. We go into more depth on this subject later, but essentially, if you are on the clock and doing something related to work and are not at fault, your company may be liable to pay for the accident through their insurance. When driving your personal car in a work accident, if it is your fault, the burden usually falls on you or your personal insurance. If it is not your fault, you need to consult company policy for more information.
Can an employee be held liable for damages in a car accident on the clock?
Yes, an employee can be held liable for damages in a car accident while on the clock. This all depends on the State laws, extent of damages and negligence, company policies, and what the other party decides to do. Overall, as long as you are obeying the laws of the road, and were not acting negligently, you are likely not liable for any damages to the other party. However, if you violated company policies, even though you were acting within the law, your employer may not be liable, requiring your personal insurance to foot the bill.
What Are You Entitled to for Compensation?
The average compensation for workplace injuries is $90,000. For work related car accidents, your compensation, assuming you are found not at fault will cover the following components:
|Lost income||This refers to any income that you lose as a direct result of the injuries sustained in a car accident. If you have a broken leg and your job is to drive, you may be incapacitated and unable to drive for two months during which time you lose your income. If this were the case, you would be entitled to compensation.|
|Medical bills and long term medical care||These damages refer to any medical bills that you have to date, and any long-term medical costs that result directly from the injuries you sustained in a work-related car accident. This could include the immediate cost of going to the hospital, your treatment for any broken bones, and long-term medical costs if, for example, you must undergo therapy for the next 5 or 10 years.|
|Damage to personal property||If you had personal property involved, such as vehicle, phone, clothing, etcetera, these things would qualify as damages to your personal property.|
|Pain and Suffering||The pain and suffering category covers the pain you had to contend with and all manner of suffering with which you dealt because of any injuries sustained in the car accident. Pain from broken bones, suffering from the inability to leave your house or a loss of social engagement, maybe even social stigma and mockery because of severe injuries to the face.|
|Emotional/Psychological trauma||This could refer specifically to something like PTSD. If you suffered a very serious car accident and we're unable to drive because of PTSD, this would fall under a separate category compared to regular pain and suffering.|
Are you entitled to workers’ compensation from work related car accidents?
There are different instances where you are entitled to workers compensation. Situations where you were determined not at fault for the accident will typically result in workers compensation provided by your company’s workers’ comp insurance policy.
If you are found at fault for a car accident while working, and you are personally liable for damages, this will typically not include workers compensation, it could also potentially result in you having to pay for damages on your own, or seek damages from the at fault party.
Occasionally, accidents can be at the fault of the employee, which can have grave consequences including but not limited to:
- Loss of license
- Loss of job
- Law suits
Because there is so much at stake, and car accidents can be expensive, it is extremely important you speak with a Colorado Attorney with experience in work related car accidents and workers’ compensation cases.
5 Frequently Asked Work Related Car Accident Questions
At Anderson Hemmat, we have been helping our clients with car accidents both work and non-work related, for over 60 years, to get the compensation and peace of mind they deserve.
Over this time, we have seen a lot of scenarios and worked with a lot of people, understand your concern, and want to learn more. So, we took the time to answer some frequently asked questions about car accidents while at work to help you understand where you are at, what steps to take next, and what to expect.
1. Is an employer liable for an employee's car accident?
In many situations, an employer can be held liable for any expenses that relate directly to the car accident if it was caused by their employees. However, this greatly depends upon whether the employee was in the accident while working.
For example, if you were the cause of an accident and it happened while you were making a delivery during your regular work day, the company would be liable for damages that resulted from the accident. Conversely, if you were involved in an accident using a company car while you were running a personal errand, the insurance carrier for your employer might state that you are personally responsible for any costs.
2. What happens if you crash a company car?
When you get in a car accident with a company car, it is important to know whether you signed a contract with your company. Most companies that require employees to use a company car will have said employee sign a car contract. This contract might stipulate the conditions under which the company is not liable for accidents. You should always have a copy of that contract in the vehicle or easily accessible so that you can verify which circumstances would render you liable vs. the company.
When you crash a company car, you need to follow the same steps you would if you were involved in any other car accident. This includes notifying the company car insurance and your boss of the accident. It also includes the typical car accident steps of calling 911 to report the accident, getting insurance information from the other drivers, taking any pictures of damages, and seeking medical treatment.
3. What happens if I lose my job due to a car accident?
In situations where the car accident was your fault and resulted directly from negligence, you can lose your job. This is especially true if you violated company policy or your company car contract. In other situations, you could potentially lose your job because of a car accident simply because the job entitles a clean, accident-free driving record which you no longer have or because the company terminates your contract as a result of the increased liability you pose to the company car insurance.
In any of these situations, you can seek damages and, in some situations, fight your termination and keep your job with the help of an experienced car accident attorney.
4. How does company car insurance work?
If your employer has company vehicles, they are most likely covered by an insurance policy under the company's name. As a result, the company is liable for any harm caused with a vehicle that they insure no matter which employee was driving. An accident victim can sue your company if the accident caused them an injury.
But company car insurance works the same as your car insurance. They will try to find out who was at fault, and they will most certainly payout if you, for example, were acting within the scope of your work and as a result caused a car accident in a company vehicle.
However, if you acted outside of the scope of your employment and you did something that was considered reckless, the insurance company might say that you are liable. In this case, the other party involved in the car accident could come after you and your personal car insurance or you alone to seek compensation for damages. Often, your company car insurance will have you cover the cost of damages in situations where you have displayed reckless behavior, typically things like drunk driving. Dealing with insurance companies can be a hassle, making it favorable to work with an attorney when they get involved.
5. When is an employee or employer liable?
An employee is liable in situations where they are at fault. More specifically, they are liable when the accident occurred on personal time or running personal errands. Consider the following:
In the state of Colorado there's a big difference between a frolic and a detour. Detours, things that are related in directly to your job, if the site of a car accident typically mean the employer is liable. Frolics, on the other hand, if the site of a car accident typically mean the employee is liable.
If you are on your way to see a client to make a sale, but you stop at a gas station in order to put gas in the company car, and you are involved in an accident that task and the situation leading to the accident was indirectly related to your work. As a result, the company, your employer would be liable for any costs.
However, if you finished with a sales call and you stopped by your mother's house for a brief visit on your way home, and the accident happened on your way to your mother's house, you would be personally liable because visiting your mother was not related to your job or the company.
What should you do if you have been in a car accident while on the job?
If you have been involved in a car accident while on the job, you need to speak to an experienced Colorado Car Accident Attorney immediately. Determining liability for work-related car accident is complicated and the more variables involved, the more complicated it becomes.
You need to act fast. For many types of car accidents, there are short periods of time in which things need to be processed in order to get them done legally. This means your company and the other party will be looking to get their information and case together as quick as possible.
If you do not act quickly and seek legal representation for your car accident at work, this will give you little time to understand what is going on. This will not give you a good chance to prove your case and either be compensated for your damages and injuries or fight against what is being brought against you or your employer.
The best part about speaking with a Colorado auto accident workers’ compensation attorney is that it is entirely free. At Anderson Hemmat, we offer our 60 years of experience in car accidents at work for free in our case evaluations, and only bill clients when they receive compensation.
Speaking with an attorney can make a huge difference for zero cost. It is a no brainer. To learn more about your case, what you are entitled to, what you are liable for, and what to do next, call our experienced Colorado Car Accident Attorneys today.