Car accidents are one of the most common ways that people suffer work-related injuries in South Carolina. Regardless of how often you drive as part of your job, there’s a risk of an accident every time you get behind the wheel. A traffic accident can leave you with serious injuries and significant financial losses.
If you were injured in a work-related car accident, you may have questions about whether your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance will pay for your medical treatment and other expenses.
Depending on the circumstances of the work-related car accident, you may have a right to pursue workers’ compensation benefits and, if you were not at fault, a personal injury claim as well. Our workers’ compensation attorneys at Joye Law Firm have helped many injured workers just like you seek compensation to rebuild their lives after serious motor vehicle accidents. We have the knowledge and experience that you need after a work-related car crash. Contact us today for a free consultation with an experienced South Carolina workers’ compensation lawyer.
Motor Vehicle Accidents in the Workplace Statistics
A recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report on work-related deaths in South Carolina lists transportation accidents as the leading cause of death, with 42 workers killed in a recent year. The survivors of a worker killed in a work-related car crash are entitled to a workers’ compensation death benefit if the accident occurred while the employee was working.
The BLS data on non-fatal injuries listed more than 9,000 reported injuries to workers in the transportation and utilities sector in that year. There were another 2,000 reported injuries to workers in the transportation and warehousing sector. Many of these injuries involved motor vehicle accidents.
Were You in an Automobile Accident While on the Job in S.C.?
Under South Carolina’s workers’ compensation laws, most employers are obligated to have workers’ compensation insurance to provide benefits to employees who are injured on the job. If you were injured in a work-related car accident, you will be entitled to claim workers’ compensation benefits to cover the costs of your medical treatment and provide wage replacement benefits if your injuries leave you unable to work for a period of time. You may be eligible for workers’ compensation scheduled member disability benefits or general disability benefits if you are unable to return to work due to your injuries.
Many employers and their workers’ comp insurance administrators dispute valid workers’ compensation claims because they are focused on the bottom line. If your employer or their workers’ compensation provider has denied your claim, an attorney at Joye Law Firm can help you understand your legal rights at no charge. Workers’ compensation cases are based on complicated rules. We’ll evaluate the circumstances of your car accident and determine whether you should be entitled to workers’ comp benefits. If so, our experienced workers’ comp attorneys will fight for all the benefits available to you under South Carolina law. Our goal is to make a positive difference in the lives of people who seek our help.
What Should I Do If I Am Injured in a Work-Related Car Accident?
The most important thing to do after any car crash is to report the accident to the police and to see a doctor as soon as you can, even if you feel fine. You may have sustained injuries that are not apparent yet. A medical professional can evaluate you and determine whether you have any underlying injuries. Do understand that for work-related injuries, South Carolina law allows the workers’ compensation insurance carrier to determine who your authorized doctors will be.
Once you have summoned police and emergency personnel to the scene, you should:
- Get the other driver’s name, address, and insurance information. If the other driver was driving a commercial vehicle, get their company’s insurance information as well.
- Take pictures of the accident scene. Be sure to include photos of all the vehicles involved, the damage each vehicle sustained, the general crash area, and anything that might have contributed to the accident such as patches of ice, fallen traffic signs, or overgrown vegetation.
- If anyone else witnessed the accident, try to get their names and contact information.
- Inform your employer of the accident. Make the report to a manager or HR representative. It’s important to make the report in writing. If you can’t make the report yourself, have someone that you trust submit the report on your behalf.
- See a doctor, and follow their instructions. If your injuries required emergency treatment, and the emergency room referred you for follow-up treatment, don’t assume that workers’ compensation has approved the referral. Contact the workers’ compensation administrator to make sure the referral has been authorized. To be eligible for workers’ comp benefits in South Carolina, you will need to be treated by an employer-approved doctor. If you deviate from your prescribed treatment, it could jeopardize your workers’ compensation benefits.
- Your account of the motor vehicle accident is extremely important to any workers’ compensation claim you file. If your claim is questioned, it is best to consult with a worker’s compensation attorney before providing a recorded statement to an insurance company about the car accident. You don’t want to say anything that could undermine your claim.
- Talk to a workers’ compensation lawyer. Workers’ compensation cases can take a long time, especially if your employer fights your claim. An attorney can help you file your claim and file a hearing request if it’s denied.
What Is the Going and Coming Rule?
Most employers in South Carolina are responsible for covering the medical bills of their employees who are injured in work-related accidents. This includes most work-related car accidents.
The general rule with work-related car accidents is that your employer has to cover your medical bills after a crash unless you were driving to or from work. This principle is known as the Going and Coming Rule.
This means you generally cannot claim workers’ compensation benefits if the car accident occurred during your daily commute to or from your job.
Exceptions to the Going and Coming Rule
There are exceptions to the Going and Coming Rule. They are:
- The premises exception — If the accident happened while you were still on company property, you might be able to claim workers’ compensation benefits after the crash, even if the accident happened while you were going or coming to work. This includes accidents in company parking lots.
- The special errand exception — If your employer asks you to perform a task on the way to or from work (such as making a deposit at the bank), this is known as a special errand. Employers are generally liable if an employee gets in an accident while performing a special mission or errand.
- The required vehicle exception — If you’re commuting to and from your job in your personal vehicle, your employer is usually not liable if an accident occurs. However, if you’re driving a company car, you likely will be able to claim workers’ compensation benefits. Talk to a workers’ compensation lawyer for more information.
Is My Employer Liable for My Car Accident at Work Injuries?
If you were in an accident at work, your employer is likely responsible for covering your medical bills through their workers’ compensation policy. As long as the accident happened on company property or as part of a work-related task, you should qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.
Any medical bills related to your injuries in a car accident while on the job should be fully covered by workers’ comp. If you miss work due to your injuries, the workers’ compensation wage-replacement benefits will cover up to two-thirds of your average weekly wages, as set by state law.
Per South Carolina law, you generally cannot file a personal injury lawsuit against your employer for a work-related injury. However, you may have a right to file a personal injury claim against a driver who was at fault for your injuries in a car crash, in addition to receiving workers’ comp benefits. If you meet the requirements to file a personal injury claim, you would be able to seek additional compensation for your injuries, potentially including compensation for your pain and suffering.
Talk to a workers’ comp lawyer at Joye Law Firm to learn more as there are some complicated procedures which need to be followed to pursue both a workers’ compensation and a personal injury claim. Failure to properly follow these procedures could result in your voiding your entitlement to workers’ comp benefits.
Will I be Able to Receive South Carolina’s Workers’ Compensation?
South Carolina requires most employers to provide workers’ compensation coverage for their employees. Most private businesses, including non-profit organizations with four or more employees, are required to carry workers’ compensation coverage. Both full-time and part-time employees are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
There are exceptions to eligibility, which are outlined in the South Carolina Code.
Workers who are generally not covered by South Carolina’s workers’ compensation include:
- Independent contractors (but understand that many employers try to improperly label employees as independent contractors)
- Casual employees
- Agricultural workers
- Railroad workers
- Federal government employees working in the state
- Some owner-operator truck drivers
What If I Was at Fault?
In South Carolina, workers’ compensation is a no-fault benefit. This means that it does not matter who caused the car accident, as long as it occurred during a work-related task or on company property.
You may still collect workers’ compensation benefits if you were at fault for a car accident, as long as the accident was related to your job. An exception to this rule is if you were impaired by drugs or alcohol when the accident happened and this intoxication was the proximate cause of the accident.
Contact our Experienced South Carolina Workers’ Comp Lawyers Today
If you were involved in a work-related car accident, workers’ compensation benefits can help you get the medical treatment you need and off-set a portion of your lost income. The South Carolina workers’ compensation lawyers at the Joye Law Firm have the experience and dedication you need during this difficult time. Contact us today to learn more in a free initial consultation.