We received this question from a reader: “I was driving a company car and got hurt in a wreck that wasn’t my fault. Can I file workers comp for it?” The first thing to remember is that driving a company car and not being at fault do not qualify you for workers’ comp.
What Normally Qualifies for Workers’ Comp?
In order to qualify for workers’ comp, you must prove you were working when you got hurt. This means you were clocked in and doing your job at the time of your incident.
Let’s say you stopped at a coffee shop on your way to the office, and that’s when the accident occurs. You don’t qualify for workers’ comp because you weren’t yet at your workplace or officially on the clock.
How about if you’re driving the company car so you and a few coworkers can go to lunch, and another car runs a red light and causes a collision? That also wouldn’t qualify because you’re not doing your job when the accident occurred.
Let’s say you deliver floral arrangements for a supermarket. Another driver hits your vehicle while driving from one delivery location to another. You have a good chance of qualifying for workers’ comp if that accident injures you while you’re on the clock.
Who Makes the Rules About Workers’ Comp Benefits?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issues guidelines that help determine whether a person qualifies for workers’ comp. For example, OSHA says an employer must declare a work-related injury if all the following are true:
- You experience a workplace event or exposure, AND
- The exposure or event happens during your normal working hours, AND
- It causes or contributes to your injury or illness, OR
- The experience significantly aggravates a pre-existing condition or illness.
On the other hand, OSHA says any of the following means your injury won’t qualify for workers’ compensation:
- The incident occurs while you’re visiting work in a non-employee role.
- You develop symptoms while working, but your job isn’t the direct cause.
- Your injury or illness happens while voluntarily participating in a wellness program or medical, physical, or recreational activity in the workplace.
- You get sick or hurt after preparing your own food or drink in your workplace.
- The injury or illness results from personal activities done outside of work hours.
There are also other reasons why your employer may deny a claim. It might be past the statute of limitations, for instance. Or you may not have missed enough work to warrant a claim.
Only a qualified attorney can tell you whether your company car accident meets OSHA’s requirements for workers’ comp.
What if I Think My Company Car Accident Qualifies?
If you understand the basic requirements for workers’ comp and are sure your accident meets those, then the first thing to do is seek medical attention. Documenting not just your injuries but your treatment is an important part of proving your workers’ comp claim.
You should also consult with an attorney as soon as possible. While you can absolutely file on your own, there are advantages to working with a workers’ comp attorney.
Have an Attorney Review Your Company Car Accident Case Free of Charge
One advantage of working with a workers’ comp attorney is that they understand the system, and can help you save time and aggravation. Another is that settlements can be higher if you work with an experienced, knowledgeable attorney. One reason for this is that attorneys who specialize in workers’ comp law know the paperwork that is necessary to file and the timeframe in which to file it. They understand how the system works, and can save you precious time and energy as you organize your medical and financial records.
Of course, every case is different and the only real way to know if your case is worth pursuing is to get expert advice. Because workmans’ comp attorneys work on a contingency basis, they will tell you right away if they think you have a case. Remember, too, that you only pay them if you win. That means that it costs you nothing to have one review your potential claim.
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Lisa Allen is a writer and editor who lives in suburban Kansas City. She holds MFAs in Creative Nonfiction and Poetry, both from the Solstice Low-Residency Program in Creative Writing at Pine Manor College. Prior to becoming a writer, Lisa worked as a paralegal, where she specialized in real estate in and around Chicago.