What If I’m in a Car Accident While on the Clock?

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Are employers ever responsible if their employees are involved in car accidents?

The short answer? Yes. But not always. There are a couple factors that must be true for your employer to be liable for damages sustained in a car accident.

When is Your Employer Liable?

Here is an example to demonstrate a situation where your employer may be liable for damages: suppose your boss asks you to go pick up some clothes from the dry cleaner. Because you were taking an action at the direction of your boss when an accident occurred means the boss has hired you to accomplish a task for him/her. Whether you’re in a company car or not, if you get into an accident—even if the accident was your fault—vicarious liability may apply here, and your employer would also be partially responsible.

Another example: suppose you deliver pizza. While you are out on a run, you are hit from behind by a distracted driver and suffer soft tissue injuries that require you to miss work and pay for treatment. It doesn’t matter whether you are in a company vehicle or your own personal car that you use for deliveries. You were acting within the scope of your employment; thus, your employer can be held liable for damages sustained.

When Is Your Employer NOT Liable?

However, if you are not acting within the scope or employment or at the direction of your employer (grabbing a bite to eat, for example, while still on the clock) and you get into an accident, even in a company car, your employer most likely will not be liable for the damages. Those expenses will fall on the at-fault driver’s insurance company (and if that driver is you, your insurance will have to take care of it).

Can I Get Workers’ Comp After an On-the-Job Car Accident?

If you do happen to get into a car accident while on the clock and acting within the scope of employment, and the accident leads to damages such as medical costs or lost work, you can file for workers’ compensation.

Bear in mind that none of these rules apply if you are on your commute to work. While it may seem that traveling to the office would count as within the scope of employment, it does not. This is referred to as the “coming-and-going” rule.

Still, there are some exceptions. For example, if you are on-call, in most cases your drive to your job would be covered within the scope of employment. For some employees who are required to spend significant time traveling, such as salespeople or nurses, the commute may be covered. Employees injured while on business trips are also likely protected.

Injured While On the Clock? Speak to a Work Injury Attorney

A qualified lawyer can assess your situation and determine if you have a workers’ compensation claim, a third-party claim, or both. You simply need to make a call, set up an appointment, and discuss your case. It’s completely free to speak to an attorney.

Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Aaron Allison

Author: Aaron Allison

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