When Car Accidents Are Considered On-the-Job

Whether someone is on the job while driving is not always a simple question. In general, any time someone is performing any duties related to work, the person can be considered on the job even when he or she is also doing personal business and driving a personal car. For example, running errands in a personal car during lunch is not considered work-related, but if the employee is also picking up or dropping off something for work, the lunchtime driving becomes “on-the-job” time. Likewise, commuting to and from work generally is not considered on-the-job driving, even in a company car. But if the driver has to make work-related stops on the way, or has to drive to and from a job site other than the usual place of business, the driving might legally be considered on-the-job driving.

When you’re injured in an accident caused by someone who you think was “on the job” at the time of the crash, proving that was the case isn’t usually something that will fall to you. Most drivers have personal liability car insurance coverage, so if you believe the driver might have been on the job, send a notice of the accident to both the employer’s business insurance company and to the driver’s personal insurance company. Then the two insurers will have to sort out which one will provide the primary coverage for damages resulting from the accident.

If you agree to your employer’s request to take packages to the post office and have a serious car wreck on the way, you are most likely acting within the scope of employment since your employer is benefiting from your action of taking the business packages to the post office in your personal car. You are on the job. But, if you have dropped off the packages, stopped off for dinner and are then on your way home when you have an accident, driving home after dinner had no benefit to your employer so you were no longer “on the job” and your employer will not be liable.

Your employer is almost never liable for a serious accident you may have on your way to and from work. But, if your job requires you to stop and inspect a job site, pick up supplies, make a sales call or any other business related activity, your employer will be liable if you negligently cause a car crash. But, what if you stop along the way to pick up your dry cleaning and have an accident either on your way to the dry cleaners or after you have left it? This is a scenario that has no easy answer. It will have insurers and personal injury lawyers working to sort through the facts and evaluate the circumstances and may require a trial in order to have a final answer.

Only if the driver is personally uninsured, or has insurance coverage so low that it does not provide full compensation for your injuries, will you have to concern yourself with the question of whether the employee was on the job when the accident happened. If there is no simple answer, then the issue becomes another factor thrown into the general hopper of negotiations – along with who was at fault for the car accident and the nature and extent of the resulting injuries and other losses.

Personal vehicle insurance policies may or may not insure car owners for business use of their vehicles with one exception referred to as the livery exception. This means there is no insurance coverage if you use your car to transport goods or people in exchange for money. This applies to using the car like a taxi or delivery van, not a simple business errand.

Remember, each case is unique, so contact HURT-511 for more information on workers’ comp statute and our personal injury lawyers help injured workers recover the benefits to which they are entitled by law. For a free consultation with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer, call us toll-free at 800-4878-511 or complete our online form. Our firm handles accident and injury claims throughout all five boroughs of New York.

HURT-511 operates in all boroughs of New York including all Bronx neighborhoods, namely: Bedford Park, Belmont, Fordham, Highbridge, Hunts Point, Jerome Park, Kingsbridge, Morris Park, Morrisania, Mott Haven, Parkchester, Riverdale, Spuyten Duyvil, Throgs Neck, University Heights and Woodlawn.