Posted by Sansone / Lauber Trial Lawyers on July 8, 2014SHARE IT
As a Missouri worker you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if you are injured or become ill as a result of your employment. Often, an injury is clearly the result of a covered workplace accident. However, in some situations, workers’ compensation coverage is less clear. A construction worker who is injured when a crane drops a load on top of the worker, for example, has clearly been injured in a workplace accident. What happens though, if you are injured in a car accident during the workday? Are you entitled to workers’ compensation benefits in Missouri or should you pursue a lawsuit against the at-fault driver? Depending on the circumstances, you could be entitled to both workers’ compensation benefits and compensation from the at-fault driver.
In the State of Missouri, a worker is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits when the worker suffers an injury that has arisen out of the course of employment. When an injury is caused by a motor vehicle accident, the issue is whether the worker was “in the course of employment” at the time of the accident. Because workers’ compensation claims based on injuries sustained in a car accident are so fact-sensitive, it is best to consult with an experienced Missouri workers’ compensation attorney about your specific situation. However, there are some general guidelines that apply in a car accident claim.
Jobs Involving Driving Likely Covered by Workers’ Compensation After Accidents
Some people travel on a regular basis for their job. If you are a salesperson, for example, you likely spend a good portion of your day driving. Other examples of positions that typically require frequent travel include delivery drivers, home health aides or others who assist the disabled or elderly, and construction workers. The list of people who regularly drive during the course of a typical day at work is long. For those workers, a car accident that occurs during their normal working hours will likely result in a compensable workers’ compensation claim because the connection between their job and the injuries is clear.
For workers who rarely drive during normal business hours, they are less likely to be eligible for workers’ compensation if they are injured in a collision. As a general rule, if you are driving to work before your workday begins or driving from work after your workday ends and are involved in a collision, you will not be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits because you are not on the job at the time of the collision. Likewise, if you clocked out for a lunch break and then get in an accident, you may not be eligible for benefits.
If your boss asked you to pick up pizzas for the office staff or construction crew on your lunch hour and you are involved in a crash during that time, you could be entitled to benefits because you were arguably “on the clock”. By the same token, if your boss asked you to make a work-related stop on your way to the office, or on your way home after work, injuries sustained in a car accident while running the work-related errand could qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.
Filing A Lawsuit in Addition to Claiming Workers’ Compensation
You cannot file a traditional personal injury lawsuit against your employer if you are covered by workers’ compensation in Missouri. But you may still have be entitled to pursue a lawsuit against the other driver if he or she was at fault in the collision.
Compensation from a traditional car accident lawsuit may be availablein addition to workers’ compensation benefits. Although the workers’ compensation system provides medical and wage replacement benefits to a covered worker, those benefits often fall short of fully compensating the worker. Compensation from a third-party lawsuit may provide the additional compensation not offered by workers’ compensation. Specifically, Missouri workers’ compensation benefits do not include non-economic damages, commonly known as “pain and suffering”, whereas a traditional lawsuit does allow a victim to recover non-economic damages.
Although workplace car accidents are often complicated, the good news is that an injured worker may be entitled to compensation from two sources instead of just one. Given the complexity of the legal issues that are often present when a worker is injured on-the-job in a car accident, it is always best to consult with an experienced Missouri workers’ compensation attorney if you are the victim of a motor vehicle accident.