Many residents of Pennsylvania drive a company car or a car owned by the employer for work. What happens when a car accident occurs? What are the employee’s legal rights?
Auto Accident While Driving for Work in Pennsylvania – Important Factors
Pennsylvania law is very complex when it comes to workers’ compensation and auto insurance. Individuals who are injured while driving a company car or otherwise driving for work should consult with a lawyer because the laws which will apply depend on critical factors such as:
- whether the company car was a condition of employment,
- whether the individual was actually working at the time of the accident, and
- whether the individual was driving to/from work.
Workers’ Compensation Claims
When a car accident involving a company car is covered by workers’ compensation, the injured worker may be able to seek workers’ comp benefits for medical bills and lost wages (indemnity). However, just because a car accident occurs while driving a company or employer owned car does not necessarily mean that workers’ compensation applies. In fact, the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act specifies that employers are only on the hook for car accidents if and only if they occurred while the employee was acting in the course and scope of the employment. Therefore, some car accidents involving a company car will not be covered under workers’ compensation.
In general, accidents which occur while coming to or from a workplace are not covered by workers’ compensation (the coming and going rule). There is one commonly applied exception—the employee has no fixed place of work, i.e., works from home.
Here are some examples of company car auto accidents which would be covered under workers’ compensation.
- Car accident occurs while driving to a client or business meeting.
- Car accident occurs while making a delivery for the employer.
- Car accident occurs while performing some other work related duty (i.e., driving to a conference, picking up supplies, etc.).
Get more information about workers’ compensation eligibility after a car accident in Pennsylvania.
If a work related car accident is covered by workers’ compensation, fault is not an issue. It makes no difference who caused the accident. The injured individual would be able to make a claim for workers’ compensation even if the individual was responsible for causing the accident.
In the aftermath of a work related car accident, especially a serious one, getting medical bills paid is one of the first concerns. In cases involving company or employer owned cars, the auto insurance policy and types of coverage will be very important. Under Pennsylvania law, workers’ compensation insurance is primary in work related auto accident cases. This means that workers’ compensation is supposed to apply first. However, due to mistake, the auto insurance company will often end up being the first source of coverage and make the initial medical payments. When this occurs, the auto insurance company will seek reimbursement from the workers’ compensation insurance carrier.
PIP (personal injury protection) coverage is required on every auto insurance policy issued in Pennsylvania and applies regardless of fault. A worker injured in a work related auto accident can recover PIP benefits even if they caused the accident. The minimum coverage required is $5,000 per person. Oftentimes, corporate auto insurance policies provide much higher limits. In many situations, especially those involving serious injuries, the emergency room visit can exhaust the PIP limits. If the auto insurance company is billed first, rather than workers’ compensation, it is likely to provide PIP benefits, up to the limits purchased on the policy. After that, workers’ compensation would kick in.
For example, a Pennsylvania resident is seriously injured while driving a company car to a client meeting. The auto insurance policy provides $5,000 in PIP coverage. The medical bills are submitted to the auto insurance company which pays $5,000 under the policy. The remaining bills for medical treatment are paid by the workers’ compensation insurance company, although, the injured worker will often be required to seek treatment from approved medical providers. Down the road, the auto insurance company will seek reimbursement from the workers’ compensation carrier.
Third Party Claims – Car Accident Caused by the Other Driver
In many cases, an individual driving a company car may get into a car accident caused by another driver. In these situations, the injured individual may be able to file a legal claim against the at-fault driver. These are known as third party claims and in no way depend on any workers’ compensation claims. An individual may make both claims, at the same time.
For example, a Pennsylvania worker is driving a company car and making a delivery. She is struck by another car and bears no fault for the accident. Because she was working at the time of the accident, she is eligible for workers’ compensation benefits and can only seek benefits for medical treatment and lost wages, if any. In addition, she can file a lawsuit against the other driver and seek financial compensation for both economic losses (medical bills, lost wages, etc.) and pain and suffering damages.
Injured While Driving for Work in Pennsylvania? Contact Our Work Injury Law Firm
Our Pennsylvania work injury lawyers handle work accident cases throughout Pennsylvania. With offices in Philadelphia and Plymouth Meeting, our firm is equipped to handle work injury cases across the state. (866) 641-0806
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