Will My Employer Pay for a Car Accident During Work Hours?

A traffic accident can happen at any time. If you suffered injuries in a crash during work hours, you may wonder who will pay for your medical bills or other losses. Workers’ compensation may apply after a work-related car accident in North Carolina, but you could run into challenges from the insurance company. Getting guidance from an experienced attorney can help you understand your rights and legal options for seeking compensation.

North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Laws

In North Carolina, workers’ compensation provides essential support for employees who suffer job-related injuries. Under state law, most employers must carry workers’ compensation insurance to cover employees’ medical expenses and a portion of their lost wages while they cannot work. This coverage can extend to workers hurt in car crashes in qualifying circumstances.

Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. That means you can receive benefits regardless of who caused your injuries. You don’t have to prove that your employer or another party was at fault to qualify for compensation. This simplifies the claims process and allows you to focus on recovering without worrying about determining liability for the accident.

Even though you don’t have to prove fault, you must show that your injury happened within the course and scope of your employment to qualify for workers’ compensation coverage. This means the injury must have occurred while you were performing job-related duties.

For example, if you are a delivery driver headed to drop off a package at someone’s house and were hit by a car, workers’ compensation should cover your injuries. But if you were driving to a restaurant on a lunch break and got into a crash, benefits likely won’t apply. That’s because going to lunch for a non-work purpose doesn’t count as a job-related task.

How Does Personal Auto Insurance Interact with Workers’ Compensation?

Several insurance policies might come into play if you were driving your vehicle for work and had a car accident. Your auto insurance might cover some immediate costs, depending on the specifics of your policy. However, if the wreck occurred while you were engaged in work-related activities, your employers’ workers’ compensation policy is typically the primary source for covering medical expenses and lost wages resulting from the accident.

If you were driving a company vehicle, your employer’s auto insurance should cover damage to the car and possibly some aspects of your injuries. However, workers’ compensation should still cover your medical expenses and lost wages related to your injuries. The coverage details can vary based on your employer’s policies, so it’s a good idea to check with human resources or your legal department if you get hurt in a company vehicle accident.

If the other driver was at fault, you could be entitled to compensation beyond what benefits workers’ compensation provides. You could file a third-party personal injury claim seeking compensation for all your medical bills, the full amount of your lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses. If so, your employer’s workers’ comp provider might seek reimbursement for the coverage they provided you through a process known as subrogation.

Subrogation means the workers’ compensation insurance carrier can pursue a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance provider to offset the benefits they paid out to you. It ensures the responsible driver’s insurance company ultimately bears the cost of the accident. Subrogation also means you don’t double dip by collecting compensation for the same lost wages from two sources.

The subrogation process typically occurs behind the scenes. You might not be directly involved, but it can affect the overall settlement of your claim and how quickly you receive compensation. The insurers will work to determine who is financially responsible and how to handle the costs accordingly. Your car accident attorney can advocate for you during the claims process to protect your right to maximum compensation.

Steps to Take After a Work-Related Car Accident in North Carolina

Here’s what to do if you are injured on the job in a car accident: 

  • Document the accident scene and gather evidence – Take photos of the accident scene, including all vehicles involved, visible injuries, and road conditions. Collect contact information from witnesses and other drivers involved in the crash.
  • Report the car accident to your employer – Inform your supervisor or human resources department about the accident promptly. This is the first step in filing a workers’ comp claim.
  • Seek medical attention for any injuries – In North Carolina, your employer has the right to choose your doctor after a job injury. Exceptions exist in certain situations, such as if you need emergency medical treatment due to the crash. Your employer should give you a list of approved providers for an examination. The sooner you get medical care, the stronger your workers’ compensation claim or car accident case will be.
  • Notify your auto insurance company – Contact your insurance provider to report the accident. This is important even if the collision occurred in a company vehicle or on the job. Keep your report brief and limited to the basic facts.
  • Consult an experienced car accident attorney – Talk to a lawyer with experience handling car crashes and workers’ comp claims. They can provide valuable advice on how to proceed and represent you in all negotiations with the insurance company.

Common Challenges in Work-Related Car Accident Claims

There are several potential challenges with work-related car accident claims. Common hurdles include:

  • Course and scope of employment disputes – Insurance providers might disagree whether your activities at the time of the accident were related to your job duties. This can affect your eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits.
  • Insurance company delays or claim denials – Insurance providers might try to delay processing your claim or deny it altogether, citing reasons like insufficient evidence of your injuries.
  • Coordination of benefits between workers’ compensation and auto insurance – Insurance companies may debate over who should cover the costs of the accident.
  • The accident involved multiple parties – Proving fault is unnecessary to recover workers’ compensation benefits, but insurers may run into disputes over liability if multiple parties played a role in the collision.

A North Carolina car accident lawyer can be a valuable ally if any such challenges complicate your case. They can provide compelling evidence to support your claim and negotiate aggressively to demand the full and timely payout you are due.

Why Do You Need an Attorney?

If you suffer injuries in a work-related car accident in North Carolina, you need and deserve skilled legal representation. An experienced attorney understands the complex details of workers’ compensation and personal injury law and can handle any associated challenges effectively. This not only eases the burden on you but also improves your chances of a favorable outcome.

Don’t try to handle a work-related car accident claim alone. Contact Hardison & Cochran today for a free consultation with a knowledgeable car accident attorney in NC.

About the Author

Hardison & Cochran was established based on the conviction that a modern approach was essential in today’s legal landscape. Focused on delivering exceptional results through a skilled team, the firm prioritizes personal attention, integrity, and client needs. Each attorney, paralegal, and staff member is dedicated to this vision. Over three decades, with Ben Cochran overseeing daily operations, the firm has evolved into a highly respected practice.

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