Few things can ruin a workday quicker than getting into an accident while on the job. That goes double for being in an accident while in a work vehicle. Any car or truck accident can be traumatic, but an accident in your work truck can add an extra layer of stress to an already difficult situation — especially if you suffer injuries in the accident.
So, what should you do if you are injured in your work truck in Charlotte or the surrounding area? Are your injuries covered by workers’ compensation? Should you file a personal injury claim?
While workers’ compensation and personal injury claims are often complex, the first few steps are simple:
- Seek medical treatment for your injuries. This will also document your injuries and may support your workers’ compensation claim.
- Report the incident to your employer immediately or within 30 days of when the injury occurred.
- Contact an experienced Charlotte workers’ compensation lawyer for guidance as soon as possible.
Why contact a Charlotte workers’ compensation attorney?
No two workers’ compensation claims are identical, and as the saying goes, the devil is in the details. If you are injured in any type of work-related accident, those details could make a difference in how you are compensated for your injury or injuries. For instance, if you are in an accident in your work truck and no one is found to be at fault, or if it is determined that your employer or a coworker is at fault, your compensation will be paid through workers’ compensation. However, if your injuries were caused by the actions of a third party who is not part of your company, you may be eligible for a third-party personal injury claim.
There is also the important matter of who owns the truck. If you are the owner-operator of your work truck, different rules may apply.
What if I own my work truck?
North Carolina’s workers’ compensation law for truckers can be complex. According to the North Carolina Industrial Commission, state law requires that “workers’ compensation coverage be in place to cover certain trucking owner/operators, even if the operator is deemed to be an independent contractor.” This means that if you are the owner-operator of your work truck and you do not have workers’ compensation coverage, the motor carrier – in other words, the trucking company you are contracted with – is required to cover you. However, per the North Carolina Industrial Commission, “the motor carrier is not liable for the workplace injuries suffered by an independent contractor who is:
- Individually licensed by the U.S. Department of Transportation, and
- Personally operates the vehicle”
Speaking with a knowledgeable workers’ compensation lawyer in Charlotte is the best way to understand your rights under the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act.
What if I was not on the job when the work truck accident happened?
If you were in an accident in your work truck while you were off the clock, the when and where and how of the accident are even more relevant. For instance, if the accident took place on company premises, even if it was outside of work hours – for instance, if you had just clocked out but were still in the parking lot when the injury occurred – you may be entitled to workers’ compensation. Similarly, if the accident or your injuries were caused by an issue with your work truck — if the was poorly maintained, for example, and your employer owns it and/or was responsible for the truck’s regular maintenance and repairs – you may have a valid workers’ compensation claim. However, if you were driving your work truck to or from work when the accident occurred, it is unlikely that you will receive workers’ compensation due to North Carolina’s going and coming rule.
What is the “going and coming” rule in North Carolina?
Under the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act, in order for an injury to be considered work-related, it must either:
- Be caused by the employee’s job, or
- Occur in the course of employment
The common law “going and coming” rule in North Carolina considers accidents that happen during an employee’s commute to and from work to be part of the general risk members of the public take when driving on roadways. In other words, if the accident is not specifically related to your job, your workers’ compensation claim will not be deemed valid.
If the accident did not happen because of your job or in the course of your employment, there is an alternative to workers’ compensation: you may file a personal injury claim instead.
Should I file a personal injury claim for my work truck accident in North Carolina?
The moments, days, and weeks following a work-related truck accident can be overwhelming, filled with questions and decisions. If you were injured, you must seek medical treatment, but who pays for it? Whose insurance does the claim go through – your personal policy or your company’s? What about the damage to your vehicle? Or to the other driver, vehicle, or property, if any, that was involved? The answers depend on the details of the accidents, and if the accident occurred while you were in your work truck but you are not eligible for workers’ compensation, the situation can be even more complex. And, because truck accidents can cause serious, debilitating injuries that require expensive, ongoing medical treatment and may temporarily or permanently interfere with your ability to work and support yourself and your family, simply doing nothing is not an option. You may need to file a personal injury claim instead.
An experienced Charlotte workers’ compensation attorney who understands North Carolina personal injury law can advise you regarding the best way to handle the matter. For instance, you may be eligible for MedPay, or Medical Payments Coverage, which is an optional coverage available through your personal insurance policy. This additional insurance coverage covers reimbursement of reasonable and necessary medical expenses resulting from the accident. However, MedPay reimbursement amounts are generally significantly lower than a settlement in a personal injury lawsuit.
If you or a loved one is involved in an accident in a work vehicle, or while on the job, the Charlotte workers’ compensation attorneys at Price, Petho & Associates can help. As workers’ compensation lawyers, we leverage our knowledge and experience in both North Carolina workers’ comp law and personal injury law to help you. From our offices in Charlotte, Rockingham, and Rutherfordton, we work hard to protect your interests and are committed to obtaining the best possible outcome for you. Give us a call or complete our contact form today to schedule a free consultation with our Charlotte workers’ compensation lawyers.
Attorney Doug Petho is the owner and founder of Price, Petho & Associates. His primary focus is the litigation of plaintiff’s personal injury suits, and he has successfully tried hundreds of cases to jury verdict involving car accidents, trucking accidents, pedestrian accidents, slip and fall accidents, and work-related accidents. Contact his office in Charlotte today.