Vehicle Accidents and Worker’s Compensation Benefits

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 worker’s 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 worker’s compensation benefits.

Unlike a personal injury lawsuit involving a vehicle accident, under worker’s 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 Worker’s 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).

Many employees find themselves suffering injuries due to vehicle accidents while on the job.

  • The driver of a semi-truck was seriously injured when his truck rear-ended another on Interstate 70 in Henry County recently. The incident happened after traffic was stopped on the highway. The driver was airlifted from the scene to an Indianapolis hospital.
  • An Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officer was seriously injured in a recent accident on the city’s west side. A witness told investigators that a woman’s vehicle struck the officer’s cruiser as it approached an intersection. The cruiser was then struck by a second vehicle.

There were a total of 5,190 fatal work-related injuries in the United States in 2016, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

  • Work-related injuries involving transportation incidents were the most common fatal accident in 2016, accounting for 40% of all work-related deaths.
  • There were a total of 2,083 transportation-related worker deaths in 2016; 1,252 of them were the result of roadway incidents involving motorized land vehicles.
  • In 2016 fatal injuries among transportation and material-moving occupations increased by 7% percent, to 1,388 — the highest count since 2007. They account for more than a quarter of all work-related fatalities.

If you consider the number of fatal roadway incidents involving motorized land vehicles (1,252) they are greater than the number of deaths due to the other leading causes of job-related accidents, including:

  • Violence and injuries due to people or animals (866)
  • A fall, slip or trip (849)
  • Contact with objects or equipment (761)
  • Exposure to harmful substances or environments (518)
  • Fire or explosion (88).

Of employees killed or injured while driving, teens and young adults have higher accident rates than any other group. Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of work-related deaths for workers in the United States aged 16 to 24, according to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health.

From 2003 to 2010 . . .

  • 843 workers 16 to 24 years old were killed in work-related motor vehicle accidents.
  • These deaths were 22% of all workplace fatalities for this age group.
  • In 67% of these collisions, the young worker was driving the vehicle involved in the crash.

Worker’s compensation covers personal injuries or deaths caused by accidents arising out of and in the course of employment. Your benefits could include medical treatment, compensation for lost wages and compensation for the loss or loss of use of parts of the body. These are the only benefits available unless you’re permanently and totally disabled due to the accident. If you’re killed in a work-related vehicle accident, your dependents may become eligible to collect certain death benefits.

Under Indiana worker’s compensation law generally, with some exceptions, whether or not you’re at fault in the accident isn’t relevant to determining whether you or your family should be awarded benefits. If you’re injured due to the negligence of another driver, you may also be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against that party to recover additional compensation for your injuries.

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 & Coriden, LLC, 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.

Attorney Terry Coriden

Terry Coriden practices workers’ compensation law as a Partner at Coriden & Coriden, LLC. His entire professional career as an attorney has been committed to workers’ compensation law and making a difference in his community. He is also highly experienced in mediation. Terry is a member and past president of the Bartholomew County Bar Association, a member of the Indiana State Bar Association, and a former board member of the Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum (ICLEF). [ Attorney Bio ]