Workers’ Compensation Lawyer San Diego, CA

Work-Related Vehicle Accidents in California

A workers’ compensation attorney can help you recover

Many California workers are on the road as part of their jobs every day. Workers’ compensation doesn’t just protect you at the office – it protects you whenever you are on the job, regardless of location. If your work involves driving and you’re involved in a car crash while on the clock, you have a workers’ compensation claim.

However, the process to get compensation for a work-related car accident can be complicated and confusing. You don’t have to go it alone. Talk to an experienced workers’ compensation attorney at Robert A. McLaughlin, APC about your legal rights and options. Contact us today to schedule a free case review.

When are car accidents covered by workers’ compensation?

First, if your job responsibilities involve driving, then you can get workers’ compensation for injuries sustained in a car crash during your workday. For instance, if you are a “traveling employee” like a delivery driver, HVAC contractor, home health aide, visiting nurse or in-home tutor, driving to customers’ homes is part of your job, and workers’ compensation protects you if you’re hurt on the road while on the job.

Even if driving is not one of your regular responsibilities, if you’re in a car accident on your way to a work event – such as an off-site meeting or running an errand for your employer – that’s covered by workers’ compensation.

Your regular commute to and from work is generally not covered by workers’ compensation. This is known as the “Coming and Going Rule” in the parlance of workers’ compensation law. However, as with most rules, there are exceptions. Some of those exceptions include:

  • The Required Vehicle Exception: if your employer requires you to bring your own car to work (so that you have it available for required travel during the workday) and take it home after work, then they may have effectively assumed responsibility for your commute.
  • The Special Errand Exception: if your employer asks you to perform an errand for their benefit during your commute, such as picking up supplies, then you may be considered “in the scope of employment” while you are completing the errand.
  • The Employer Control Exception: if your employer exhibits some control over you during your commute, for instance if you are required to be “on call” for certain work tasks, then your commute may be considered in the course of your employment.

In addition to debate over whether these exceptions apply, there is often dispute as to exactly where the commute begins and ends. If you’re hurt in the company parking lot, does that count as a work injury or is it part of your commute? That can go either way, depending on the facts and circumstances of the injury.

Who is responsible for my work-related vehicle accident?

If you’re involved in a car accident while traveling or driving for work, there are multiple parties that could be responsible for paying for your injuries. First, as with any other work injury, the workers’ compensation insurance company is responsible for your medical expenses and a portion of your lost wages, regardless of fault. Second, if a third party such as an at-fault driver caused the accident, then they are responsible for the damages they caused, as with any other car crash.

In other words, there’s no single answer to the question of who pays for a car accident while working. You need experienced legal counsel to sort through the situation and explain your options.

An experienced attorney can help you explore all your options

If you were on the job when your car accident happened, it’s treated the same as any work-related injury. You’re entitled to workers’ compensation benefits to pay for all your medical expenses, partial replacement of lost wages, and additional benefits if you have a permanent disability. This is true even if you were at fault for the accident itself – workers’ comp is a no-fault system, so with very few exceptions, you’re covered.

In addition, if your car accident was caused by someone other than your employer or a coworker, such as the driver of another vehicle, then you can file a third-party claim against that person. Third-party personal injury claims can provide compensation for costs not covered by workers’ compensation, such as pain and suffering or excess wage loss.

The key is to act quickly. Work-related car accidents can give rise to complicated cases, and there are strict deadlines that need to be met. Report your injury, get medical attention, and contact an experienced attorney right away. We would be happy to discuss all your legal options in a free, confidential consultation.