Off The Record – Workers’ Comp Work-Related Motor Vehicle Accidents
Bill: Hey, Janet.
Janet: Hey, Bill. I got a question for you. I just had a client call. He was a route driver and he was going from one place to another on his route and the weather, obviously, wasn’t so good. So he wound up having an accident and he’s wondering why he can’t go through his insurance.
Bill: You mean his no-fault?
Bill: Yeah, it’s inappropriate to file a claim for no-fault when you have a motor vehicle accident that takes place in the course of employment, which is what was going on here. Okay? Workers’ compensation insurance is meant to cover that event, that incident, that accident. Okay? So clearly he’s working. He’s driving and he’s driving from one business location to another. He’s clearly in the course of employment. There are a lot of people that travel as part of their work. They drive as part of their work, delivery drivers, cab drivers, classic example, but there’s also a lot of outside salespeople that, you know, drive as part of their job.
A lot of times too, you may have an employee that typically works inside an office, who may have to go out and do an errand for the employer. Typical, gotta go to the bank, gotta go make a bank deposit, you know, and I’m gonna take my car. I’m gonna drive to the bank and I’m gonna drive back to the office. Where it gets complicated is if you leave to go out for lunch, and while you’re out on lunch, you’re gonna do an errand for the employer. That’s where you gotta really kinda figure out, well, what part of this trip is work-related, what part isn’t, what part is on my personal time?
While we’re on the topic, if you work inside at an inside place of employment like an office, or a store, or something like that, you’re not covered traveling to and from your home. Okay? You’re only covered when you enter the workplace, and that could be the parking lot, by the way. As soon as you pull into the parking lot you should be covered for worker’s comp.
Janet: Okay. And the fact that this gentleman was using his own or privately-owned vehicle, it doesn’t matter?
Janet: You can’t go through no-fault?
Janet: It’s gotta go through comp.
Bill: And, you know, generally what’s gonna happen is most employers are gonna have some kind of, you know, they’re gonna reimburse them for their travel expenses or, you know, pay for their car maintenance. Typically, what they’ll do is they’ll give them a credit card or something like that for them to get gasoline and, you know, to service their car, and so on and so forth. And, you know, at the end of the year, they figure out how much of the car use was work-related, how much of it was personal use, you know, but you’ve gotta think of it this way.
It’s like when you look at no-fault premiums. No-fault premiums are based upon your personal use of the vehicle. Okay? A lot of times when you’re applying for insurance, they’re gonna ask you, “Well, you know, typically how many hours a week do you drive? How many miles a week do you drive? What do you use your car for? You use it to go to and from work? To do personal errands, you know, take your kids to soccer or something like that, you know?”
That’s what no-fault is meant to cover. Your personal use of the car. No-fault is not meant to cover you for employment situations. Okay? That’s where workers’ comp comes in and, of course, you know, a company that employs drivers and people who are out on the road, using their vehicles or company vehicles, their premiums are going to be higher for workers’ comp because there’s more risk involved. The more you drive, the more chance you have of having an accident, right?
Janet: Makes sense.
Bill: And this is accident weather out here, by the way. Slippery, icy roads, you know, go through this November through March, sometimes later. So, if you have any other questions about motor vehicle accidents, work-related or not, you can give us a call or just check us out on the web, www.nydisabilitylaw.com. I’m Bill Turley and this is…
Janet: Janet Santeramo.
Bill: Thanks for watching.