If you were in a work-related car accident, you might be wondering how you’re going to cover the cost of your medical bills and other expenses that result from the accident. While workers who are injured in the workplace are typically eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits, what about workers who are injured while commuting to work, running an errand for an employer, or using a company vehicle?
Below we’ll review which types of work-related car accidents are covered by workers’ compensation and which aren’t.
If you were injured in a work-related car accident, you might be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits that will cover your medical treatment and a percentage of your lost wages.
Were You in an Automobile Accident While on the Job in NC?
In some situations, it is very easy to determine whether a car accident qualifies as “work-related” and whether the victim could be entitled to collect workers’ compensation benefits.
For instance, if you drive a delivery truck at work and you get into an accident, you would be considered “on the clock” when the accident occurred. Workers’ compensation would cover your injuries from the crash regardless of who was at fault.
Other types of automobile accidents that could be considered work-related too, including:
- Car accidents that take place in the employer’s parking lot
- Car accidents that occur while commuting between work sites or offices during a work shift
- Car accidents that occur during an employee’s commute to mandatory meetings or work appointments
- Car accidents that occur while running an errand for the employer
- Car accidents that occur when an employer is contractually obligated to provide the employee with transportation
What Should I Do If I Am Injured in a Work-Related Car Accident?
If you have been involved in a work-related car accident, you should take several steps right away:
- Seek medical attention. Get immediate treatment if you’ve been hurt. Make sure that your medical provider makes detailed notes about your injuries.
- Notify your employer. It is crucial to notify your employer of your injury as soon as you can. Make sure you provide them with pertinent information such as the date and time of the crash and a report of your injuries. This will initiate the workers’ compensation benefits claims process. You have 30 days from the date of the injury to report your injury to your employer in North Carolina. You don’t want to put this off.
- Gather documents. Keep track of all of your medical records, including hospital bills, tests, surgeries, prescription labels, physical therapy bills, etc. You’ll need your medical records to properly document your workers’ compensation claim.
- Consult with a workers’ compensation attorney. Work-related car accidents can be challenging to investigate. Consulting with a dedicated workers’ compensation attorney can be beneficial as you seek the maximum compensation the law says you deserve.
What Is the ‘Going and Coming’ Rule?
The “going and coming” rule establishes that if a worker is injured in an accident commuting to work or going home from work, workers’ compensation typically does not apply in North Carolina.
If a worker is to be eligible for worker’s compensation benefits, then their injuries must arise either out of employment or in the course of employment. The going and coming rule doesn’t consider accidents that occur when commuting to work to be the same as accidents that occur while actually on the job or otherwise performing a task for a job.
Exceptions to the ‘Going and Coming’ Rule
There are a few notable exceptions to the “going and coming” rule. Courts in North Carolina have determined that a person sustains an injury “in the course of employment” in the following circumstances:
- Premises exception – When injuries result from an accident on the employer’s premises, such as in the employer’s parking lot.
- Special errand exception – When the employee is injured in an accident while running a special errand for the employer.
- Transportation exception – If the employer furnishes the employee with transportation to and from work or covers the employee’s commuting costs to and from work.
If an employee sustains an injury in a car accident under these circumstances, they are typically able to collect workers’ compensation benefits to help cover the cost of medical bills related to the accident and lost earnings.
Contractual Duty Exception to NC Workers’ Comp Laws Regarding Car Accidents
If an employer is contractually obligated to furnish an employee with transportation to and from work, or provides their employee with a work vehicle for commuting purposes, or reimburses the employee for the cost of commuting to work, then workers’ compensation will typically cover any accidents that occur.
However, if an employer provides their employee with transportation to work as a goodwill gesture, and not because it is in the employee’s contract, then workers’ compensation might not cover injuries that result from an accident.
Car Accidents at Work FAQ:
Is my employer responsible for the healthcare necessary to treat my injuries?
If your accident occurred on the job and in the course of your employment duties, then you are eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits through your employer. Workers’ compensation benefits cover economic damages related to the accident, such as medical expenses related to your injuries and lost earnings if you cannot work after the accident.
Will I be eligible to seek workers’ compensation benefits in North Carolina?
You should be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if you were driving as a part of your regular work duties. Commuters are generally not entitled to workers’ comp benefits unless an exception applies. If you were injured in a work-related accident case and it falls into one of the three exceptions to the “going and coming” rule, then you will be able to receive North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits. If you were injured in a car accident on your employer’s premises, while running a special errand for your employer, or your employer is contractually obligated to provide you with transportation, then you should qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.
Will I need to file a claim with my own car or health insurance?
If you were injured in a work-related accident, workers’ compensation benefits should cover the cost of present and future medical expenses related to the accident, partial replacement of lost wages, and even job retraining if you cannot return to the same job due to your injuries. Workers’ compensation doesn’t cover the cost of repairs to your vehicle.
Contact Our Experienced North Carolina Workers Comp Lawyers Today
If you have been injured in a work-related car accident, don’t wait to consult with one of our dedicated North Carolina workers’ compensation attorneys at Teddy, Meekins & Talbert, P.L.L.C. Contact us today for a free consultation.
A native North Carolinian and a fourth-generation lawyer, Ralph W. Meekins literally had the desire to help those who are not able to help themselves as well as to be a practical life adviser to people in his blood.