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Who is liable in a work-related car accident?

Accidents happen all the time at the workplace, but work-related accidents may occur nearly anywhere, even while traveling in a vehicle, depending on the circumstances. If an employee suffers an injury in a car accident while on the job or while doing something that directly benefits the company, the accident may qualify for a workers' compensation claim to cover the medical expenses of needed treatment and other losses.

Workers' compensation claims involving vehicle accidents may face a number of objections from an employer's insurer, and may require special attention to ensure that the victims receive proper compensation and medical care. If you or someone that you love suffers injuries in a work-related car accident, be sure that you fully understand all your legal rights and options before you build a claim.

Vicarious liability of an employer

Vicarious liability is a legal principle that establishes an employer's responsibility for employees' actions within a proper scope of employment. Under this principle, an employer may bear responsibility for a car accident, even if the employee's own actions caused or contributed to the collision. Vicarious liability may exist in an accident if an employee

  • Performs a duty within his or her job description when the accident occurs
  • Is on the job when the accident occurs
  • Is doing something that benefits the employer when the accident occurs

If your accident occurred within one or more of these constraints, then you may qualify for a workers' compensation claim, and the employer may even hold liability for other related damages or injuries.

Does a commute qualify?

In many instances, commutes do not qualify as your work. While this issue comes up in court from time in different venues, most understandings of employment and commute in America do not consider the two very related. However, there are some exceptions to this, depending on how a person defines a commute.

If, for instance, you are on a business trip and you travel from a hotel to a jobsite, and while on that drive you experience an accident, this probably counts as work-related, because the entire trip is a business trip.

However, in most cases, simply driving to your workplace from your home does not qualify as work-related activity, unless you also perform some other work-related task during the commute.

Understand your legal rights fully

Seeking a fair settlement from a workers' compensation claim is often a difficult process. Without a full understanding of the laws and processes necessary to obtain a fair settlement, it is easy to miss important benefits.

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