Anywhere from 20 to 50 million Americans are injured or disabled each year in the United States due to automobile accidents.
Most people associate injuries involving automobiles with the use of vehicles for personal reasons. And while it is true that people are more likely to be injured when using their vehicle for personal purposes, there are times injuries can be sustained when a car or truck is used for work-related reasons. Normally, auto injuries that occur when a worker is going to or from the workplace are not covered by workers’ compensation. But there are some exceptions.
- If an employee is required to bring their vehicle to work and use it throughout their work day for business-related travel, it may be possible to file a claim if an accident occurs.
- The other exception is when company vehicles are used to provide transportation, as may be the case with car pools.
Types of Possible Injuries
Injuries that may be sustained when a vehicle is used for work-related purposes are similar to what may occur with any type of auto accident. A surprising number of injuries are caused by the door closing on a vehicle. But it’s injuries involving negligence of another person that tend to be the most serious. For instance, a sudden stop because another car swerves into a car’s path may result in whiplash or a spine injury. The most common auto-related injuries that may be experienced include:
- Neck injuries
- Broken bones
- Leg and knee injuries
- Spine-related injuries
What to Do When a Work-Related Auto Injury Occurs
When a work-related auto accident occurs, the first step to take is to seek medical attention. It’s especially important to take this step with head injuries, possible spinal cord injuries, bone fractures, and any injury that has resulted in the loss of consciousness, sensation, or blood. If possible, key information should be obtained, such as witness info, license plate number if another vehicle was involved, and insurance information for other involved parties.
Report the incident to your employer as soon as possible so there can be a record of it in company files. If the other driver was primarily at fault, it’s usually easier to obtain workers’ compensation benefits. Even if you were partially responsible, it may be possible to file a claim. In some instances, it may be an employer that’s held responsible for work vehicle injuries. This may be possible if:
- They failed to inspect and/or maintain work vehicles
- Proper training wasn’t provided with the use of certain types of cars used for work purposes
- The vehicle lacked sufficient safety features
If there was some type of negligence on an employer’s part that may have contributed to an accident involving a company vehicle, it’s sometimes possible to secure compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages, medical expenses, and ongoing care that may include physical therapy and other medical procedures. Since there may be a fine line between whether or not an auto injury related to a vehicle being used for work-related purposes is covered by workers’ compensation, it’s best to seek advice from an attorney to determine how to proceed.