We commute back and forth to work every day, many of us in our own personal vehicles. When we do so, we’re not really considered “on the clock” at our jobs until we walk in the door or onto the job site and start working. So, unfortunately, if you happen to be in an accident on your way to or from work, you may not be able to seek damages under workers’ compensation.
However, many workers are suffering injuries in car accidents regardless. According to the National Safety Council, motor vehicle accidents are the costliest workers’ compensation claims by cause of injury, averaging nearly $80,000 per claim.
Filing a workers’ compensation claim
Tennessee workers’ compensation law covers employees while they’re on the job and performing work functions. Accidents that occur on the way to or from work typically aren’t considered part of performing your job. This is called the “coming and going rule.” In order to claim workers’ comp, you have to prove the accident happened during the scope of your employment, during regular work hours.
There are some possible exceptions and arguments to the coming and going rule. You may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits after an accident while driving to and from work in some of the following situations:
- If you drive a company-owned vehicle to and from work
- If you’re on work premises when the accident occurs; i.e. a parking lot accident
- If you’re a traveling salesperson
- If you drive to multiple job sites or offices during a shift
- If you’re traveling for work or on an overnight trip
Also, employees whose job duties involve traveling beyond commuting, like truck drivers, cabbies, bus drivers and the like, should be covered under workers’ compensation if they’re injured in an accident.
If you have questions about this, we can help. Partner Mike Wagner was the lead attorney on Larry Donald Howard, M.S. v. Cornerstone Medical Associates, P.C., an often-cited case regarding compensability for injuries sustained while traveling to and from work.
Filing a personal injury claim
You may also be eligible to file a third-party personal injury claim if you were injured in an accident on the way to or from work. The difference between a personal injury claim and a workers’ compensation claim, however, is that with a personal injury claim you must prove that the other driver or party was at fault and caused your injuries. With workers’ comp claims, you don’t need to prove fault – and in fact could be the one at fault and still receive benefits.
An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help you determine if your accident may be eligible for a workers’ comp claim or personal injury claim. We can also help if your claim is denied, as well as work with you on an appeal.
The workers’ comp lawyers at Wagner & Wagner, Attorneys at Law fight for the benefits you deserve when you’re injured on the job. We serve clients in Chattanooga and Cleveland, TN, in North Georgia, and all surrounding counties. Call us today at 423-756-7923 or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation.