Can I Receive Workers’ Comp After An Accident On My Way To Work?

Car accident on the way to work and workers' compensationOne question that many individuals have is, “Am I covered by workers’ compensation if I get in an accident on the way to work?” The answer to this is: generally you are not covered, but there are several crucial exceptions and details that may be helpful to those wondering about their coverage.

Background Information

Workers’ compensation is a type of contract that exists between an employer and an employee. It essentially provides insurance for employees should they suffer an accident or injury as a result of their job; businesses provide compensation in exchange for the employee waiving his/her rights to bring a civil suit against the business for negligence. Workers compensation can provide a critical lifeline for individuals struggling with medical costs from a work-related injury.

When Am I Entitled?

Although workers’ compensation laws vary between states, a general rule is that to qualify for compensation, a worker has to be “on the job” whenever the injury or accident for which you’re claiming compensation occurs. Although this can include driving activities, these activities need to occur as part of your work day for which you get paid; for instance, running an errand or delivering an item to another business are activities during which you qualify for workers’ compensation. By contrast, while driving to a restaurant during your lunch break, you are not covered.

Another important consideration is that sometimes employee agreements can alter the conditions of workers’ compensation. Individuals should be careful not to rely on their employers for compensation; the insurance companies that back these policies up will do their best to ensure the least possible payouts.

Probably the most important consideration is how often and for what reasons you drive. Employees who suffer an accident along a fixed route that they always take to their job are generally not entitled to workers’ compensation, because they were “driving to work” as opposed to “on the job.” By contrast, employees whose jobs require them to consistently drive to different locations — traveling nurses, for instance — may be entitled to workers’ compensation.

A variety of other factors can influence whether or not you are eligible for workers’ compensation:

  • Whether you were driving a company vehicle at the time of the injury.
  • Whether you were technically “on the clock” at the time of the injury.
  • Whether driving is part of your job agreement.
  • Whether the activity you were engaged in furthered the interests of your business.
  • All of these can play a major role in determining eligibility, and the specifics of the contract and injury are extremely important. Individuals interested in learning more about when they are covered by workers’ compensation should bear in mind that coverage almost always varies based on the specific circumstances in which the injury occurred, and that the legal status of compensation agreements also varies. Individuals are encouraged to consult workers’ compensation lawyer John Snyder to help them get the compensation they’re entitled to.