Helping People in Boston, Quincy, Brockton, Plymouth, and All of Massachusetts
What do UPS drivers, taxi and bus drivers, pizza delivery employees, long-haul truck drivers, and emergency responders all have in common? All of their job descriptions include driving motor vehicles, whether it’s a company car or a personal vehicle. But what happens if you get involved in a car accident while on the job? Who’s to blame? Will you receive compensation? Will you have to pay for third-party injuries? These questions are not easy ones to answer since there are so many variables to consider, and since Massachusetts law can be a little vague on the topic. But if you have a job that requires driving in any capacity, you need to know your legal rights if something were to happen. After all, transportation accidents account for over 40% of all workplace deaths in the United States each year, a scary statistic to think about.
Driving Situations Considered “On-The-Job”
With other workplace injuries, it can be easy to determine whether or not the accident took place “on-the-job.” However, workplace vehicle accidents can be harder to define since they don’t usually happen in the work area. Generally, if you are driving or riding in a vehicle for work-related reasons, you can be covered by worker’s compensation. Examples of these types of situations include:
- If you drive for a living (truck, bus, and taxi drivers, etc.)
- Making deliveries (pizza delivery employees, etc.)
- Running an errand for your boss (picking up supplies, coffee, etc.)
- Using a company vehicle to pursue job duties
- If you travel for work and have no fixed office
- If you are compensated by your boss for travel to and from home and work
- Transporting another employee
If you get into a car accident while commuting from home to work, you most likely will not be eligible for worker’s compensation benefits. This is because you are not considered “on-the-job.” However, if your boss asked you to pick up something for the office on your commute to work, and you got into an accident, you may then be entitled to worker’s compensation benefits. Additionally, just because you were driving for your job, does not always mean your employer is responsible. For example, if you were delivering a pizza by car and you got into an accident, it seems to be obvious that you were involved in a workplace accident. However, if you were speeding, driving recklessly, or using unapproved driving routes, your employer may argue that you were not within the scope of employment. You can see where the lines start to blur, which is why it’s best to consult with one of our attorneys to see if you are eligible for worker’s compensation.
If you think you’ve been involved in a workplace vehicle accident, you’re probably wondering what kind of compensation you can receive. After all, you may need time off work to recover, you may have medical bills, and third parties may be coming after you for compensation. Generally speaking, the legal doctrine of respondeat superior comes into play here. This just means that employers are legally responsible for the actions of their employees while performing job duties. In the case of workplace vehicle accidents, this means that employers are usually monetarily responsible for:
- Portion of lost wages
- Property damage
- Medical bills
- Out-of-pocket expenses (crutches, bandages, etc.)
- Vocational rehabilitation costs
- Settlements for accidents resulting in disabilities
Note: Worker’s compensation does not pay for pain and suffering.
Your employer’s liability insurance will also protect you against lawsuits filed against you by third parties. This means that if you injured someone or his or her property in the accident, your employer will be responsible, not you. Of course there are exceptions here, such as if you were engaging in criminal activity.
Additionally, if the accident was not your fault, you may be entitled to workers comp AND the third party driver’s liability insurance. This means that you may be able to receive the full amount of your lost wages, as well as compensation for pain and suffering.
Contact A Massachusetts Worker’s Compensation Lawyer
Your employer will most likely fight back and hire lawyers to argue a case against your claim. That’s why you need an experienced legal team to help win your case and get you the compensation you deserve. Our attorneys at Powers & Caccavale have the legal experience, understanding of the inner workings of insurance companies, and the determination needed to achieve excellent outcomes and maximize your monetary compensation.