Vehicle Accidents and Workers’ Compensation

Imagine you’re behind the wheel of your company truck, or in a car with co-workers on your way to meeting a client, or you’re a police officer stopped at a red light. An accident occurs and you’ve been injured. Are your injuries covered by workers’ compensation?

Any time you travel in a vehicle, you run the risk of suffering injuries or being killed in an accident. That includes traveling as an employee in the course of your work, whether you’re a passenger or a driver, whether you’re a professional driver or you’re simply getting from one place to another as part of your job. Whether you’re a truck driver, you deliver packages, you work as a visiting nurse or you’re an accountant driving to a meeting with a client, if you’re injured in the course of doing your job you may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.

Unlike a personal injury lawsuit involving a vehicle accident, under workers’ compensation, who’s at fault isn’t an issue (unless you caused the accident because you drove in an unsafe manner, ignoring your employer’s well known safety rules). It also doesn’t matter whether you’re the driver or a passenger or whether the accident was caused by your vehicle or another one.

Vehicle Accidents and Workers’ Compensation

Since the federal government started keeping track of work-related deaths in 1992, transportation-related accidents have caused the greatest number of Indiana workplace fatalities, according to Indiana’s Department of Labor. There were 55 such fatalities in 2015, accounting for nearly half of all work-related deaths in the state.

  • These accidents include those on the road (36), those off the road involving vehicles (8) and pedestrians struck by vehicles while they were working (9).
  • Heavy tractor trailer drivers had the greatest number of transportation fatalities (18).
  • 22 fatalities happened to those working in the transportation and warehousing industry, while 33 occurred in other industries, including agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting (10), administrative and waste services (6) and construction (3).
  • Transportation accidents caused two-thirds of work-related deaths in the professional and technical services industry, 75% of the work fatalities in administrative and waste services and nearly half of the fatalities in the agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting industry.

Statistics for work-related vehicle accident deaths have gone up and down sharply over the years. These types of deaths have accounted for as many as 57% and as few as 38% of all Indiana workplace fatalities, averaging out to 46% (higher than the national average of 42%). In years when the numbers were especially high, there may have been one or a few accidents involving the deaths of several employees.

Indiana Vehicle Accident Injuries

Injuries you could suffer on the job due to a work-related vehicle accident depend on a number of factors, including:

  • The type of vehicle you’re in
  • Whether you strike a solid object like a telephone pole or another vehicle
  • The amount of force put into your vehicle by the other vehicle or object
  • The angle of your vehicle, the other vehicle or object at the time of the collision
  • The use of seatbelts and the effectiveness of air bags (if any).

Given these factors, you could suffer any number of injuries, ranging from the minor to those resulting in severe, lifelong impairments.

  • Soft tissue injuries: These can include whiplash (injuring the muscles, ligaments and tendons of the neck, shoulders and upper back) caused when the head is suddenly and violently thrown back and forth due to the force of the accident. Serious abrasions or cuts caused by shattered glass or parts of the vehicle could go deep into the body, causing serious injuries. Sprains and strains of the arms, legs and feet, if serious enough, can impair your mobility and cause chronic pain.
  • Internal Injuries: The force of an accident can throw your body into others in the vehicle and into parts of the interior, including the steering wheel, door and dashboard. If an object or other vehicle intrudes into the passenger compartment, your body might directly strike it. This could cause injuries to your internal organs, including your lungs or brain. The liver, spleen, kidneys and other organs can be damaged, causing abdominal pain and internal bleeding.
  • Head and brain injuries: Traumatic blows to the head can cause serious injuries to the brain, face and structures of the head, which can result in cognitive or psychological problems in addition to physical harm. Traumatic brain injuries may be detected immediately or take time to show themselves. They can be caused by violent shaking of the head which results in the brain hitting the inside of the skull. They can include concussions, and they could result in serious, chronic, life-altering injuries.
  • Spinal injuries could cause paralysis and chronic pain. Damaged vertebrae in your back, along with soft tissue injuries, could result in a lifetime of pain, reduced mobility and function of your arms and hands.

What You Should Do If You’ve Been Injured in a Work-Related Indiana Vehicle Accident

No matter what side of a claim you are on, a worker’s compensation dispute might seem like an intimidating process, but it doesn’t have to be. With the help of a worker’s compensation attorney, you can be sure that your interests are being represented. At Coriden Glover, our experience is an asset to our clients, and we can give you knowledgeable, skilled representation in all stages of a dispute. Contact us today to learn how we can assist you by calling us at (812) 375-9800 or filling out our online contact form.