Business owners or their employees might drive on behalf of the business every day. Some might make deliveries, others might travel for meetings or to see clients. Even in this time of social distancing, travel has not stopped. Plus, working away from the traditional office is likely to increase in the future. One drawback of this is that company drivers might face accident risks when they hit the road. Should they get injured in one of these wrecks, they might have a right to workers’ compensation. Here’s why.
Understanding Workers’ Compensation
All states have workers’ compensation laws. Most require most employers operating within their borders to carry workers' compensation insurance. This coverage will pay restitution to employees who get hurt or sick as a result of on-the-job hazards.
When an employee gets hurt at work, they might have to stop working while they recover. Some might not even be able to return to work in the same capacity. Therefore, they could face the risk of income insecurity. A claim on their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance can enable them to receive payment for a percentage of their lost income and medical costs. It can also help the employer avoid both paying these costs out of pocket and a potential injury lawsuit.
How Workers’ Compensation Applies to Car Wrecks
When you dispatch an employee driver on an errand, then they drive under your business’s authority. By driving on behalf of the business, they are performing some of their essential duties. Workers’ compensation rules will likely apply to these situations.
Suppose, for example, that while on their way to make a delivery, another vehicle strikes your company car. The employee driver sustains a back injury that will require months of recovery. A claim against your workers’ compensation policy can provide the employee with a percentage of their lost income and medical bills. Until they return to work, they will be able to remain secure knowing that they will have a source of income.
In workers’ compensation claims, fault often is not a factor that determines someone’s eligibility for benefits. Therefore, an employee might qualify for workers’ compensation regardless of if they or someone else causes the car wreck.
One limit, however, is if the employee has a wreck when off the job. Even if they drive a company car full-time, wrecks occurring off the clock likely won't qualify them for a claim. Accidents while commuting to work also won't qualify for workers' comp claims.
Keep in mind, commercial auto insurance might provide medical payments benefit. Additionally, when a wreck is a third party’s fault, the injured driver might also receive compensation from their auto liability insurance. However, the injured person’s eligibility for workers’ compensation often will not change. Check your state's specific workers' comp laws to learn more about how policies will address car accident injuries.