The liability of a car accident is already a complicated decision tree. When you add in a work-related accident, it gets more complicated. Throw in a contract employee situation, and you have a real mess. Here are some things that employees and employers should think about when sorting out who is liable for an accident.
When the Accident Is the Other Person's Fault
If the accident is the other driver's fault, that is the simplest outcome. They are liable for the damages caused by the accident; that means they will need to pay for the vehicle to be repaired and for any personal injuries for the driver. But accidents are often not clean-cut, and you may be looking at a situation where the other driver was mostly liable for the accident but the employee was responsible for a portion. An 80/20 split is not uncommon, and neither is a 50/50 split.
Workers Compensation and Personal Injury May Both Be Involved
As a driver injured in this situation, you would be eligible for worker's compensation benefits. When the resulting injuries and damages are extreme, you could also choose to forego worker's compensation and look at filing a personal injury claim instead.
The Lines of Contract Work Are Blurry
However, consider that you will need to prove whether or not you are a bona fide employee in order to proceed. Don't simply refer to what is listed in your employee contract; an employer might classify someone as a contractor when, by all tests, they are actually an employee who is eligible for worker's compensation rights. Speak with an attorney if you are in a gray area on either side of the table.
Employers Must Be Careful About Firing Employees
Employers may seek to fire an employee if they caused a car accident on the job. But it's advisable to speak with a workers compensation attorney about the implications; there is a due process to follow and the employee will likely receive benefits during their injuries.
Lawyers Can Help Mitigate Interpersonal Damages
The best case is when each side has a lawyer represent them. The interpersonal complexities of navigating the liability for a car accident are always difficult, but especially when there is an employer relationship. If two lawyers are able to settle the claim in a legal and fair way for everyone, it helps minimize the personal involvement and potential hard feelings that come along with getting compensation to whomever it is due.
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