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Determining when workers’ comp benefits may be available for a car crash

Motor vehicle accidents can result in some of the most serious on-the-job injuries compensable though workers' compensation benefits. According to a study from the National Council on Compensation Insurance, although auto accidents account for only a relatively small proportion of total workers' comp claims overall, they are responsible for 15 percent of permanently debilitating on-the-job injuries and more than 20 percent of work-related fatalities.

Given the potential severity of car accident injuries, it is particularly important to recover the full compensation you deserve if you have been injured or lost a family member in a work-related car accident. Those injured in car accidents compensable through workers' compensation have an advantage over those injured in crashes that occurred outside the scope of employment in that fault is generally not considered when awarding workers' comp benefits. But when is a car crash within the scope of employment, and therefore compensable through workers' compensation?

Was employee driving pursuant to work-related duties?

For those whose work duties almost exclusively include the operation of a motor vehicle, it might not be as difficult to define when a crash falls within the scope of employment. But, many car accidents also occur among employees who drive only occasionally in a work capacity, and these cases are often more complicated.

Did the injury "arise out of" the scope of employment? If the answer is yes, workers' comp benefits should be available.

For example, imagine that someone who normally works as a chef is asked by her employer to make a delivery; if a car accident occurs while the employee is making that delivery, she should be covered by workers' comp. To put it succinctly, if an employee is traveling by automobile for work when the accident occurs, workers' compensation should be available.

However, there are a few important caveats. Generally, injuries arising out of traffic accidents that occur simply when commuting - traveling to the workplace from your home or vice versa - are not compensable through workers' compensation. In addition, if an employee is running an errand for his or her employer, but deviates from the errand to attend to some personal matter and then suffers injury in a car accident, workers' compensation benefits might not be available.

Of course, in order to qualify for workers' compensation benefits, the injured party must meet other general requirements, such as being classified as an employee rather than an independent contractor.

Ask a workers' compensation attorney about recovering benefits for your injury

Determining whether car accident injuries are compensable through workers' compensation can involve some tricky legal questions. But, making the determination can be well worth it, as workers' comp covers all medical bills for a work-related injury, provides compensation for lost wages and permanent disability, and, in the event of a fatality, ensures that dependents receive death benefits for up to 10 years.

The best way to start figuring out if a car accident occurred in the scope of employment is to ask the opinion of an experienced workers' compensation attorney. Your attorney can help you analyze the viability of your case and ensure that you recover the full amount you are entitled to if you are eligible for workers' compensation benefits. If you have been injured in a car crash that may have been work-related, or if you lost a loved one in such an accident, get in touch with a workers' compensation attorney today.