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When your car accident qualifies for workers’ compensation

Posted On March 26, 2015

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 32,000 Americans are killed in motor vehicle accidents every year. Hundreds of thousands more are seriously injured. Some are disabled for life. Many of these injuries occur while people are commuting to and from work or performing work activities. Car accidents may qualify for Illinois workers’ compensation if they meet the necessary criteria.

How does workers’ compensation apply to motor vehicle accidents?

Workers’ compensation helps employees recover the personal and medical costs of a work-related accident. Illinois law provides for benefits if a crash occurs while a worker is acting within the immediate scope of employment, as a Chicago auto accident lawyer knows.

What is the immediate scope of employment?

An employee is acting within the immediate scope of employment if the activity is directly related to job duties. These duties can include any or all of the following:

  • Making deliveries
  • Making purchases related to the job
  • Driving between the workplace and off-site jobs
  • Hauling or transporting goods belonging to the company

Commuting to and from a job in a private vehicle does not normally qualify as an activity within the immediate scope of employment.

Driving a company vehicle

While a worker is driving a company vehicle, he or she is generally within the scope of employment. This scope includes the commute to and from work if the employer has given permission for the vehicle to be used in this way. Every Chicago auto accident lawyer is aware that inappropriate or unsafe personal use of a company vehicle may disqualify the employee for benefits.

Two case studies

Two recent motor vehicle accidents in rural Illinois serve to illustrate these principles. In one case, a 26-year-old construction worker suffered a disabling spinal cord injury in November 2010 when his company truck slid off the road in a snowstorm. The worker was using the truck without permission to go on a weekend hunting trip. He was denied workers’ compensation. In another case, a 41-year-old employee in a print shop was in a collision with another vehicle while using her personal car to deliver printed products to a client. She was awarded eleven weeks of temporary total disability while her broken femur healed.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, more than 1,700 people die each year in job-related motor vehicle accidents. The rules surrounding vehicle use and workers’ compensation can be complex. People who have been hurt in a motor vehicle accident should consider calling a Chicago auto accident lawyer.

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