Generally, employees who are injured during their commute to and from work are not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. However, there are certain instances where these accidents may be covered by Virginia workers’ compensation.
In Virginia, an employee must be injured in a work-related accident in order to receive workers’ compensation benefits. In other words, the injury must arise out of or occur during the course of employment. However, the injury does not have to take place on an employer’s property.
One common question is whether an employee can receive workers’ compensation benefits for injuries arising from accidents that take place during a commute to or from the workplace. Generally, employees who are injured in a car accident during their commute to or from work are not covered by workers’ compensation.
Whether a particular situation is covered by workers’ compensation is very fact-specific and consultation with an experienced Virginia workers’ compensation attorney is the best way to ensure you are receiving any benefits you deserve. While car accidents during an employee’s commute are not generally covered, there are certain exceptions.
Driving a company vehicle. If you are injured while driving a company vehicle to or from work, you may be entitled to workers’ comp benefits. If the vehicle has been provided by your employer or you are paid for the time spent commuting, it is more likely that workers’ comp may provide coverage. However, if you are driving a company vehicle while engaging in activities that are not work-related or running personal errands using a company car, workers’ comp will not cover your injuries.
Driving to multiple job sites. If you are traveling between two locations on the work premises, you may be covered by workers’ comp. Similarly, if you are injured while driving between two job sites during a shift, you may be entitled to benefits.
Employment-related task. If you have been assigned a task that is connected to your employment to complete on your way home from work or on your way to work, you may be entitled to benefits. For example, an employee has been assigned to pick up office supplies for their employer on their way home from work. While on the way to the office supply store, the employee is injured in a car accident. In this case, the injury arose out of their employment and workers’ compensation will likely provide coverage for injuries.
Business trips or employees where travel is a major job duty. If an employee’s usual job requires traveling, then injuries that occur while carrying out those duties will be covered. For example, this would commonly apply to bus drivers, delivery drivers or truck drivers. In addition, if an employee travels to different locations to meet with clients and is injured during the course of their travels, they may be entitled to benefits. This would commonly apply to employees in sales positions where travel is a required part of their job or employees whose job it is to drive for a living.
Special employee functions. Companies may sponsor employee events like parties or sporting events. If you are injured while participating or attending a company-sponsored event, you may be entitled to benefits. However, coverage for injuries at these types of events is heavily dependent on the facts, so consultation with an attorney may be required to fully evaluate your options.
Lunch breaks. If you leave work over your lunch break and are injured, you are not covered by workers’ compensation. However, if you are out picking up lunch for your employer, you may be entitled to benefits.
It should be noted that if you are at fault for the accident you can still receive workers’ compensation benefits. This is different than a civil lawsuit, where any negligence on your part would bar your claim. As long as you did not willfully cause the accident our Virginia workers’ compensation lawyers can fight to get you benefits from the accident.
If you happen to be in an accident that may potentially be covered by workers’ compensation, remember that your first concern should be the safety of those involved in the accident. Call law enforcement and seek immediate medical attention for any emergent issues. If you do not require emergency medical treatment, you will still need to be evaluated by a physician to determine whether there are any injuries. If you are injured, consult with your employer to ensure you are using one of the approved physicians necessary to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
You will also want to document as much of the accident scene as possible: take photographs of the vehicles and any personal injuries, and get contact information for any witnesses. Also, do not forget to take note of the environment: what was the weather like, what time of day was it, were there any road conditions (e.g., debris or construction-related issues) that may have contributed to the accident?
One final consideration if you are injured in an accident through the fault or negligence of another person, you may be entitled to seek damages against the other party to compensate you for any personal injury or property damages. To learn more, contact our Virginia personal injury attorneys.
Determining whether an accident is covered by Virginia’s workers’ compensation laws can be incredibly nuanced. If you have questions about a possible work-related injury, consult with the workers’ compensation attorneys at Renfro & Renfro. With years of proven experience on both sides of workers’ comp disputes, our team offers personalized legal solutions to ensure you receive the best possible outcome. Contact us today for a free consultation.