Car accidents are stressful, and getting in an accident in a company car creates a lot of questions. Am I covered under workers’ compensation? Who pays for my injuries? Who pays for the car?
When Does Workers’ Compensation Cover Car Accidents?
Workers’ compensation insurance covers employees who are injured in the course and scope of employment. If your job requires you to drive to a destination, the driving is within the course and scope of your employment. This includes delivery drivers, couriers, and transportation drivers. It also covers employees who are driving from one location to another after they have begun their work day, as part of their job duties.
Workers’ compensation generally does not cover coming to and going from work. Even though it may be a job requirement to arrive at your workplace every work day, Colorado workers’ compensation law does not consider traveling to or from work to be within the course and scope of employment. The workplace parking lot is considered an extension of the workplace. An employee injured in a car accident in the parking lot, either after arriving at work or before departing at the conclusion of the shift, will generally be considered to be in the course and scope of employment.
A major exception to the rule against coverage while coming to or going from is employees who are in travel status. An employee is in travel status if he or she is required to travel away from home on business. This includes employees who travel from site to site within one workday, and who travel away from home for an extended period of time. Employees traveling for work are generally covered under workers’ compensation from the time they leave home until the time they return. This includes injuries sustained while the employee is not actively completing a work task, but is attending to personal comfort, including eating, hydrating, or sleeping. A major exception to coverage under travel status, however, is when an employee makes a personal deviation from job duties beyond attending to basic personal comfort. The deviation must be unrelated to work duties and confer no benefit on the employer. Examples include shopping for personal use, socializing at a bar, recreating, and exercising. If a car accident occurs when the employee is in route to or during a personal deviation, workers’ compensation may not apply. When the personal deviation is complete, the employee resumes travel status and should be covered by workers’ compensation benefits in the event of an accident.
What Damages Are Covered by Workers’ Compensation in a Car Accident?
If an employee is in the course and scope of employment, including travel status, he or she should be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if involved in a car accident. These benefits include: 1) wage loss benefits for missed work due to work restrictions imposed as a result of the accident; 2) medical benefits; 3) monetary benefits for permanent disability as result of the accident. Workers’ compensation does not cover property damage. This includes damage to the car, and any personal belongings lost or destroyed in the accident. Workers’ compensation also does not include pain and suffering, future lost wages, or loss of consortium.
What If My Work-Related Car Accident Was Another Driver’s Fault?
In some circumstances, an employee injured in a work car accident may be entitled to both workers’ compensation benefits and personal injury recovery from the at-fault driver. The workers’ compensation carrier may be entitled to subrogation rights on some of the benefits paid under the workers’ compensation claim, if the employee receives recovery from the at-fault driver. There are important communications that must be made between the parties in the workers’ compensation case and the personal injury case to protect the injured employee. Having one law firm represent the employee on both claims can greatly facilitate this. At Ramos Law, we have experienced teams of both personal injury attorneys and workers’ comp lawyers in Colorado and Arizona to handle all litigation related to an on-the-job car accident.