Who Is Liable for a Car Accident at Work?

Two workers and their company vehicle.

There are millions of commercial vehicles on the road in Pennsylvania: delivery trucks, service trucks, mobile workstations, vans, and company vehicles. If you drive a vehicle for work, it's almost a given that you'll get into a car accident at some point during work hours. Filing a claim for a 'regular' car accident is complex enough; what happens when your employer gets into the mix?

Here's the first thing to understand: in Pennsylvania, work-related car accidents are treated primarily as work injuries, which means the first remedy the law applies is Pennsylvania workers' compensation. Workers' compensation is no-fault, which means you'll be eligible for medical benefits, lost wages, and rehabilitation costs. However, like any workers' comp claim, it does not cover pain and suffering or diminished quality of life.

Once workers' compensation coverage has been exhausted, you'll also be able to use Personal Injury Protection insurance benefits to cover your medical costs and lost wages. PIP is also no-fault, so you'll get benefits even if you're found at fault.

When Does Workers' Compensation Apply to Car Accidents?

Workers' comp may apply if you're driving a work vehicle (or driving a personal vehicle for work-related reasons), but it won't apply in every situation involving a company-owned vehicle. Workers' comp only applies when the claimant was doing something within the scope of their job duties, which does not include commuting to or from work.

Work-related car accident claims will include:

  • Making deliveries
  • Driving to a client or business meeting
  • Driving to get supplies
  • Driving on a trip to a conference

There is one situation where getting hurt while driving to a job site or office would be covered by workers' compensation. Pennsylvania courts have ruled that when a worker has "no fixed place of work," they're entitled to workers' comp benefits if they're injured while traveling to work. This applies to mobile service providers who use company vehicles, as well as work-from-home employees who need to come to the office on occasion.

The Deadlines for a Workers' Compensation Car Accident Claim

There's a hard 120-day deadline for filing a work-related car accident claim with workers' comp. After 120 days, you're no longer able to file. However, if you want compensation for every day between your accident and the filing of your claim (which includes any ER visits or early treatment), you'll need to file within 21 days. Once you file, your employer has 21 days to accept or reject your claim, which is another reason to file early: less wait time.

Additionally, you'll likely need to see a company-approved doctor within 90 days of filing your claim. You can seek a second opinion if you'd rather see your own medical provider, however.

What Happens If the Other Driver Is At Fault?

So workers' comp and PIP cover medical costs, lost wages, and other basic economic damages. But what happens when you've suffered life-changing injuries that permanently lower your quality of life? Who can be held accountable when someone else's negligence caused you deep and lasting harm?

Pennsylvania law allows you to file a third-party claim against the other driver in addition to seeking benefits from workers' compensation and your own PIP policy. Unlike the latter policies, your third-party claim is fault-based, which means you'll need proof that the other driver was at fault. If you've been injured in a work-related car accident caused by another driver, you'll need an attorney who is experienced with both workers' compensation law and injury trial law; fortunately, Handler, Henning & Rosenberg LLC is one of the only premier injury firms in Pennsylvania familiar with both of those areas of practice.

HHR has been advocating for the injured in Pennsylvania since 1922. Our staff includes a specialist in workers' compensation law certified by the Pennsylvania Bar Association's Workers' Compensation Law Section as authorized by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, as well as a team of injury trial lawyers with tens of millions in recoveries. When you're in a work-related car accident, we're the team you need.

Call (888) 498-3023 today for a free consultation. Let's discuss your options and file your claim as quickly as possible.

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