Millions of car accidents occur each year in the U.S. In Pennsylvania, there were 128,420 reportable traffic crashes in 2018. Many of those crashes lead to injuries and some to fatalities. But what about when one of the cars involved is a work vehicle, a company or business owned car or truck?
What Should I Do If I’m in An Accident in a Work Vehicle?
If a portion of your job requires you to drive a work vehicle, that is a company-issued car, van or truck, then your Employer likely has insurance to cover that vehicle — and you — in the case of an accident. If you are driving a work vehicle and get into a crash or accident of some kind, there are steps you should take to ensure everything is documented and that you are covered.
- Call the police so they can file an accident report – whether or not it’s your fault and whether or not it “seems like a big deal” at the time, if you’re driving a work vehicle and get in any kind of accident make sure you contact the police and that a report is created.
- Get checked by a doctor – If you are injured in an accident, seek medical treatment immediately. It is important to make sure that your injuries and symptoms are documented as close in time to the accident as possible. Many people who experience an accident feel fine at first, but then pain sets in days or even weeks later. It makes sense to be seen by a doctor after any accident just to make sure everything is ok. However, if you decide to wait and your pain sets in later it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
- Notify your supervisor and/or Employer – If you are involved in an accident while driving a work vehicle owned by your Employer you must contact them right away to tell them what happened. Your Employer may take a statement from you regarding the accident. It is important that you provide truthful and accurate information not just about the accident itself but about any injuries. It is also important to understand your body — it makes no sense to offer a statement to your Employer if you have suffered, for example, a head injury. Give the statement when you are physically able to do so.
- Consult with an injury lawyer – Getting into an accident while driving a vehicle on the job, especially if you get injured, can be stressful. Having an attorney represent you early in the process can make a huge difference in things like your access to medical treatment and, ultimately, the outcome of any potential claim. It’s important to contact a lawyer with experience in accidents and injury law.
What Will my Employer Cover if I’m in an Accident While Driving a Work Vehicle?
Employers are required to have auto insurance coverage as well as workers’ compensation insurance coverage. The auto insurance would cover any damage to the work vehicle itself as well as damage to the other vehicle involved in the accident — including the other driver, depending on the nature of the accident. If you are involved in an accident while operating a work vehicle, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits that would potentially cover your medical expenses as well as any wage loss. The way the insurance operates is dependent on whether or not you are engaged in your work duties at the time of the accident or if the accident occurs outside the scope of your employment.
Does It Matter If It was My Fault or the Other Driver’s?
Fault can be a major factor in these types of cases. For auto insurance purposes, fault will determine which insurance company is liable for damages: your Employer’s or the other driver’s.
For workers’ compensation purposes, fault is less of an issue. Workers’ compensation benefits are payable regardless of fault so long as the accident occurs in the course and scope of your employment with the exception of a violation of a law or positive work order (i.e. drunk driving or if you specifically were told not to drive the work vehicle in the first place). In other words, if you are operating a work vehicle and accidentally rear-end someone, the accident would be your fault but you would still be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
Is There a Chance my Employer or the Insurance Company Will Not Cover an Accident in a Work Vehicle?
The short answer is yes. Unfortunately, in any kind of accident, insurance companies and Employers will do whatever they can to limit liability and/or to avoid financial exposure, i.e., paying you benefits. This is why it is important to consult with an injury attorney early on in the process to ensure that the insurance carrier and/or Employer does not try to take advantage of you.
Consulting with Georgelis Injury Law Firm is free and confidential. We are happy to meet with you and answer any questions that you may have. Your Employer or the insurance carrier will not know that we have met unless you formally retain us to represent you.
I was Injured in a Work Vehicle Accident…Who Can I Call?
Call Georgelis First at 1-800-HURT-NOW. Our claim evaluations are always free and always with an experienced auto accident and workers’ compensation attorney who can help you understand your options.