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Was Your Motor Vehicle Accident Actually Work-Related?
Here’s something to consider. Some motor vehicle accidents are actually work-related. And, no – it’s not just crashes involving bus operators or truck drivers. In fact, you could be hurt in the course of your employment while driving your own car.
Plenty of jobs require employees to use their own vehicles. In many cases, the company affords a stipend or mileage rate to reimburse workers for fuel and wear and tear. You may fall into this category if you are a sales representative, service person, or make small deliveries.
Home health aides and visiting nurses often use private transportation when taking care of at-home patients. Like many other types of employees, they provide a valuable service.
As a matter of course, everyone rushes from one place to the next. In one case, a nurse stops to see her terminally patient for their scheduled appointment at 2:00 pm. When she arrives at the home in the Elmora section of Elizabeth, the nurse notices that her patient needs extra time.
It surely doesn’t help matters that the nurse must see someone else in Cranford at 3:30 pm. Admittedly frazzled, she figures she can still make it on time to the next patient. She’ll just need to speed a bit.
Unfortunately, the nurse’s valiant efforts result in her own personal harm when she thinks she can make it through a red light. She never makes it to the next appointment. Instead, she’s involved in a car crash. An ambulance takes the nurse to the hospital.
In case you weren’t sure, this most definitely represents a work-related motor vehicle accident. The nurse’s medical bills and other benefits will come from the company’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier.
Work-Related Motor Vehicle Accidents
More than likely, you have a few questions. In the first place, it appears that the nurse was at least partially responsible for the accident by running through a red light.
Fault does not matter in workers’ compensation – unless it’s in unique circumstances involving intent. In our example, the nurse would be entitled to payment for her medical treatment and a portion of lost wages. Depending on the extent of her injuries, she might even receive an award for some amount of partial or total permanent disability.
Next, if the nurse’s actions were less than fifty percent her fault, she may be entitled to file a third-party claim. This assumes negligence on the part of the other driver. Two-thirds of any monies received from the workers’ compensation carrier would be subject to reimbursement.
Going and Coming Rule
In the exemplary case, the nurse was working when her accident occurred. According to NJSA 34:15-36, workers’ compensation benefits are only payable for incidents “arising out of and in the course of employment.”
The test becomes when employment starts. Someone who commutes to the same location daily might be precluded from a workers’ compensation claim based on the going and coming rule. The work day would generally begin when the employee arrives on the job.
Meanwhile, there are a number of exceptions to the going and coming rule. Does the employer provide a parking lot? Was the employee injured in a fender bender while trying to find a space?
Additionally, if the company provides transportation or sets up a carpool, the injured worker may still be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
The bottom line is that some motor vehicles accidents are work-related. In order to determine your rights, it is critical to speak with a law firm that handles both workers’ compensation and car accident claims. Contact the Law Offices of Beninato & Matrafajlo to schedule an appointment to learn how we can help you.