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On-the-job vehicle accident

Orange County Workers’ Compensation Attorney can assure you that any motor related accident that occurs within the state of California is covered by some type of insurance. If you were injured on the job performing a work-related task you are entitled to workers’ compensation which includes medical and disability coverage. If you were on a break on a company vehicle and you suffer an injury you are most likely covered by the company vehicle insurance. In addition, if you were not at fault for the damage, you may be entitled to a different form of compensation from a third party insurer.

On-the-job vehicle accidents are more common than they seem and fortunately, they are insured by workers’ compensation laws. The laws guiding the workers’ compensation program is different in each state. Some state’s law describes that employees who are performing a work-related assignment are considered to be performing a task within the “scope of employment”. If you are carrying out a work-related task and you are injured while on a company vehicle, you are entitled to workers’ compensation coverage in the state of California. In other words, if the employee was performing a work-related task that involved he or she to use a company or personal vehicle and the employee is injured while performing the task, the employee would be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.

There are some cases where employees have not covered with workers’ compensation in the event of a vehicle accident. For example, your personal commute to and from work is not considered to be within the scope of employment. In addition, you may not be covered during your personal time off which includes any break that relieves you from your duties for a given amount of time. If you are on a lunch break with a company vehicle you may not be covered by workers’ compensation in the event of an accident.

The Orange County Workers Compensation Attorneys’ believe that employees who are hurt while on or off the job should receive immediate medical and disability insurance one way or another. A variety of factors come to play in a car accident which means you are often not the only liable factor that caused the accident. We are ready to inform and guide you through the filing process to ensure your benefits arrive in a timely manner. If your employer objects to your claims, we are ready to defend your rights and represent your case to assure your benefits are there when you need them.

If you need professional guidance on a workers’ compensation claim, please contact us at 949-423-3212.

Liability and Workers’ Compensation Claims

Workers’ compensation insurance is a liability insurance that applies to a work-related injury. Within the laws of workers’ compensation, in a work-related accident, both the employee and employer give up their right to sue each other. Through this insurance the employer provides medical and disability coverage to its employees, ensuring that they are freed from financial stress during their recovery. On the other hand, it protects the employer or company from being sued in the event of a work-related injury. In the event that you are permanently disabled from performing your prior occupation, workers’ compensation may include that your employer has the duty to your vocational training so that you may work after your recovery.

Workers’ Compensation ensures that you receive medical and disability benefits without having to file a lawsuit. However, if you are in a car accident while on the job and you are not at fault, you may file a claim against a third party insurer. For example, an employee on the job site is operating a Caterpillar vehicle with a malfunctioning engine. If the engine causes an injury both the employer and the manufacturer have some form of liability towards the accident. In this case, the employee may file for workers’ compensation or may file for workers’ compensation and then follow a lawsuit against the third party. Companies that produce faulty equipment can be liable in a court of law for any accident they cause and the compensation depends on the degree of fault that can be attributed to the equipment.

Workers’ Compensation insurance may only cover an employee if he or she was hurt while performing a task within the scope of employment. An employee is liable for any misstep that occurs while on the job. In essence, an employer or company is liable for an accident if their negligence was at fault or through vicarious liability.

To better determine your course action please contact the Orange County Workers’ Compensation Attorney. If multiple factors have caused your accident you may be entitled to higher compensation.

Vicarious Liability and Employer/Employee Negligence

An employer or company is liable for any damages that occur under their supervision and training. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) states that an employer has to provide a safe working environment for all individuals in a workplace. Providing a safe workplace for all employees means that all employees are trained to perform their specific task to reduce the possibility of an accident. In addition, it also means that the company is responsible for hiring people who will keep a high level of professionalism at work to avoid any form of accident due to other employee’s negligence.

Under OSHA mandate, an employer is required to background check all individuals who are operating ‘heavy equipment vehicles’ such as tractors, bulldozers, cranes, excavators, loaders, pick-up trucks, and other work vehicles. In most states, employees are required to hold an engineer operator title or another form of classification before they are deemed ‘safe’ around heavy equipment vehicles. If the company hires someone who does not meet the basic requirements to perform the duties of an engineer operator, the company would be reliable for any damage that the individual causes in a workplace.

In addition, the employer is required to supply enough supervision to ensure that their employees are following the safety regulations in their occupation. Drivers or other vehicle operations personnel is required to follow all the standards and regulations put in place by OSHA, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS).

Vicarious Liability

Under vicarious liability, the employer is responsible for their employee’s actions or negligence. The employer is responsible for:

  • Employee's actions that are within the scope of employment or his given task
  • Employee’s action during working hours

For example, a UPS driver or another mail service delivery man hit a car while on the way to delivering a package. The UPS driver caused an accident while performing a task that was within his scope of employment. In these cases, the employer or company is liable for their employee's injuries and they are also responsible for any injuries or damages the employee caused while on the delivery route. However, as mentioned earlier, if you are using the company vehicle to run a personal errand, the company is in many cases not liable. In these cases, you should seek compensation from a third party insurer as your workers’ compensation will not cover your expenses.

If you have been injured while on the job performing a task for a business owner or for a company, you are within the workers’ compensation insurance. If you are being denied any of your workers’ compensation benefits in the event of an on-the-job vehicle accident, you should contact a local attorney to discuss possible ways in which you can prove employer liability. The Orange County Workers Compensation Attorneys are ready to fight for your benefits when you need them.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics: Transportation

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 30 percent of work-related fatalities occurred from transportation incidents. In 2010, the federal department stated that out of 4,547 work-related deaths, 1,766 deaths (about 38%) resulted from on-the-job vehicle accidents. The United States federal departments have organized administrative bodies that govern the transportation industry to lower the deaths and injuries that occur per year. Their regulations have decreased work-related deaths and injuries by 40 percent since their implementation.

Any employer or company that requires their employees to use a vehicle while on or off the job, is required to follow the safety regulations put in place by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS). These agencies have outlined procedures that all employees can follow to reduce work-related injuries or deaths. They have also implemented guidelines for employers so that they reduce the probability of a work-related injury. Any violation of these regulations could result in violation fees or even worse, they could result in work-related injuries or work-related deaths. The mission of these agencies is to provide a safe work environment that decreases the likelihood of accidents while on the job.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

Employers are advised to promote the safety regulations implemented by the Department of Transportation and Department of Labor so that they help reduce work-related deaths and injuries. OSHA provides guidelines that promote safe work habits that diminish work-related accidents. In addition, they also promote regulations that if not followed could lead to violation fees.

OSHA provides a comprehensive guideline for operation engineers operating heavy equipment in the agriculture industry and construction industry. In addition, they provide safety measures for working under difficult conditions such as operating a heavy vehicle while snow is present.

To learn more about the regulations established by OSHA, please visit their Motor Vehicle Safety at: www.osha.gov/pls/publications/publication.athruz?pType=Industry&pID=141

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

The NHTSA is an agency governed by the U.S Department of Transportation with missions to reduce traffic-related deaths and injuries.  The department has been able to establish a successful road safety organization through the creation of NETS which has reduced the annual count of transportation-related injuries. NETS has outlined ten steps to reduce the number of work-related deaths and injuries that occur with employees using transportation equipment such as cars, pickups, and other heavy-duty vehicles.

Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS)

NETS encourages employers that require the use of heavy-duty vehicles to follow 10 steps to reduce the probability of a work-related death or injury. These steps provide an additional safety net to ensure your employees remain safe and to reduce the filing of workers’ compensation. 

Steps to reduce work-related injury:

  1. Senior Management Commitment and Employee involvement: Senior management should create and enforce policies that reduce on-the-job vehicle accidents. Management is encouraged to involve their employees in the planning and implementing of he safety program.
  2. Written Policies and Procedures: Use OSHA and NETS Safety posters to ensure your employees have access to the policies and procedures of the company.
  3. Driver Agreements: Establish driver agreements that detail what is expected of each worker. This agreement should also detail the commitment to keeping safe driving habits.
  4. Motor Vehicle Record Checks: Ensure that your employee has the right documentation to operate the company vehicle and equipment. Provide regular checks on his or her driving record to ensure he or she is a safe driver.
  5. Crash Reporting and Investigation: Establish a procedure in the event of a car crash or accident.
  6. Vehicle Selection, Maintenance, and Inspection: Provide proper maintenance and check-ups on company vehicles.
  7. Disciplinary Action System: Establish a disciplinary action for employees who repeatedly violate regulations and cause repeated accidents.
  8. Reward/Incentive Program: Make safe driving part of the business culture, keeping employees responsible for their driving habits.
  9. Driver Training/Communication: Provide periodic training on driving methods and regulations.
  10. Regulatory Compliance: Ensure that your employees follow the regulations set out by the different federal departments regarding their occupation.

To learn more about these safety guidelines, please visit the Guidelines for Employers to Reduce Motor Vehicle Crashes at www.osha.gov/Publications/motor_veichle_guide.pdf

Those who are injured while on the job operating a motor vehicle or heavy-duty vehicles, are protected by the California State law on Workers’ Compensation. If you suffer from an on-the-job vehicle accident you are entitled to your compensation and may be entitled to additional compensations from third-party insurers.

To learn more about your benefits and to assure your claims are processed correctly, please contact Orange County Workers Compensation Attorney at 949-423-3212. We will provide you with the appropriate steps to handle your workers' compensation claim.

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