Personal vehicles and workers' comp

We all drive a lot, and it's not just for personal trips to the grocery store, the gym and to day care. Sometimes we drive for work. Not to and from work, but on-the-job work. Even if you're not a delivery driver or salesman, sometimes you need to run to the store for office supplies, to get to a meeting held away from HQ or to visit a client.

But what happens if you're en route and you're in a car accident. It's your car, but it's company time and a company errand. If that's the case, you're most likely eligible for workers' compensation.

When you're covered

The short description is that, if you were doing a company task then you will be eligible for workers' compensation. Even if you weren't on the clock, but the errand was related. For example, your commute home goes past the office supply store so you swing by to purchase some new printer ink. As you pull out of the parking lot, another car runs a stop sign and hits you.

When you're not covered

Sticking to the printer ink example, let's say this happened during your regular shift instead. If you were running to the store for ink, but made a second (personal) stop at the pharmacy before the accident happened, then you are not eligible. The difference is if you're performing a work duty versus a personal errand. Even if you're being paid by the hour, picking up your meds is not a work task and it wouldn't be covered.

Sometimes there is gray area in the middle and it depends on the route you take and the timing of your personal errand. If you're running from the ink store to the pharmacy when the accident happens, you must prove that the accident happened in relation to your work task to be eligible.

An overview

The fact is that workers' compensation ties to what you're doing at the time of a car accident. Use of a personal car on employer time makes the situation more complicated but it doesn't change the premise.

There can be both a civil lawsuit to cover damages and a workers' compensation claim for work matters. In many cases, your employer will file a counter lawsuit against the other driver to gain compensation for their own losses in the accident, essentially asking the other driver to cover your workers' comp. Consulting with an experienced attorney can provide valuable insight about your options after any work-related accident.

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