Crash Test: Do Injuries from On-the-Job Car Accidents Qualify for Workers’ Compensation?

If you are injured in a car accident while on the job in South Carolina, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Those benefits may cover the cost of your medical treatment as well as provide wage replacement while you are unable to work. Whether a worker injured in a motor vehicle accident qualifies for workers’ compensation benefits depends on the specific facts and circumstances of the accident.

Some motor vehicle accident injuries are clearly work-related and, therefore, should qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. If you are an over-the-road truck driver employed by a trucking company, for example, and you are injured while driving your truck on a delivery, your injuries will likely qualify for workers’ compensation. In fact, the transportation industry consistently has the most fatal workplace accidents each year in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If your primary function is not driving, however, it becomes more difficult to determine if the car accident injuries qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.

Workers frequently operate a vehicle during working hours for a variety of reasons. Some of those reasons are work-related while others are not. The most important factor used when deciding if injuries from a motor vehicle accident qualify for South Carolina workers’ compensation benefits is whether or not you were “on the job”. Some examples of situations where a car accident could result in a valid workers’ compensation claim include:

  • Making deliveries or picking something up for your job
  • Running a work-related errand for your job
  • Transporting employees on official work-related business
  • Traveling to different locations for your job

If you were on the clock and/or you were being reimbursed for gas and mileage, there is a good chance you will be considered to have been “on the job” at the time of the accident. Conversely, if you were driving to work or traveling home after work, you were probably not “on the job” for purposes of a workers’ compensation claim. However, there are exceptions to this general rule. If you left your job during your lunch hour and were involved in an accident, you will likely not qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. If, however, your boss asked you to run out and pick up pizzas for the office,during which you were injured in a car accident, you could be entitled to benefits.

The South Carolina workers’ compensation system is a no-fault system, meaning that you are not required to prove fault on the part of your employer to be entitled to benefits. Likewise, if you are injured in a workplace motor vehicle accident, you do not have to prove that the other driver was at fault to be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.

But if another driver was at fault in a car accident while you were on the job, you could also have a compensable personal injury lawsuit in addition to receiving workers’ compensation benefits. In most instances, you cannot sue your employer for workplace injuries, but you can file a claim against a third party such as a motorist who caused the accident.

Because there is no simple test to determine if your motor vehicle accident injuries qualify you for workers’ compensation benefits, it’s best to consult with an experienced South Carolina workers’ compensation attorney about the specific facts of your case.