Recovering Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Benefits for a Work-Related Car Accident
A workplace car accident can be devastating to an injured employee, leaving them physically struggling and facing financial losses. While some employees drive for a living, others may only occasionally operate a vehicle to complete a work-related task. Either scenario can form the basis of a successful claim for workers’ compensation under Pennsylvania law. It is important that injured employees establish their right to benefits following an accident.
In 2015, the Workers’ Compensation Annual Report, set forth by the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, indicated that Highway Motor Accidents were more than 3% of all reported work-related injuries. This percentage accounted for 5,114 injuries, which may appear to be a small portion of the total number of injuries or illnesses at 166,102, but this fails to reflect the permanent and lasting impairments often caused by highway accidents.
First, it is important that injured workers seek immediate medical treatment, even for minor or seemingly nonexistent injuries. Head injuries, such as concussions, can develop over time. An employer is often less likely to pay a claim when notice was not given on the day that the injury took place.
For some employees, it will be straightforward to prove that they were acting at the behest of their employer when the car accident took place. Paramedics, commercial truck drivers, and other workers are required to drive to complete their job duties. For these individuals, car accident-related injuries are typically compensable under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act.
Other employees will be required to prove that their errand, delivery, or other work-related task was performed in the course and scope of their employment. If an employer specifically requests that an employee operate their vehicle to complete an errand, the injured employee will likely have a claim under the Act. Additionally, if an employee completes a work-related task but then runs a personal errand, and a motor vehicle collision takes place, the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company may attempt to deny a workers’ compensation claim based on these circumstances.
While an employee’s negligence typically does not bar recovery in a workers’ compensation lawsuit, a finding that the employee was reckless, particularly while driving, will likely bar their claim for recovery. In other words, if at the time of the work-related errand, the employee was driving over the speed limit and therefore negligent, they may not be barred from recovery or prevented from recovering their full amount of benefits.
Additionally, there is extensive case law on the issue of workers who suffer injuries on their commute to and from work. Known as the “coming and going rule,” the overall concept is that an employee cannot recover workers’ compensation benefits for injuries sustained on their way to or from work. There are exceptions, though. Contacting a knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney is the first step to ensuring that you present a strong case for recovering benefits.
At Needle Law Firm, our workers’ compensation attorneys effectively and efficiently represent injured workers in Pennsylvania. We can help you understand your legal rights and navigate the claims process. Contact us for a free consultation by calling (570) 344-1266 or contacting us online.