Is My Employer Liable if I am Injured While Driving for Work?
From salespeople to truck drivers in the West Texas oilfields, many people in Texas either drive for a living or as a significant part of their job. If you are injured in a car or truck accident while on the clock, are you entitled to compensation from your employer? Allow our Houston car accident lawyers to explain.
Workers’ Compensation and Work-Related Vehicle Collisions
Generally speaking, an employee who suffers injuries in a vehicle collision can seek workers’ compensation so long as their accident occurred “within the scope of employment.” Of course, all of the normal workers’ compensation limitations still apply as well (for example, your employer must actually participate in workers’ compensation, and you generally cannot collect benefits if you were intoxicated at the time of the accident).
Determining whether the accident occurred “within the scope of employment” can require a complex analysis depending on the facts involved in the accident. Unsurprisingly, if there is any doubt, most employers will argue that the employee was on personal time in order to avoid liability. However, there are a few relatively hard-and-fast rules. For example:
- Employees are not entitled to workers’ compensation for injuries suffered while on their normal commute to or from work.
- Employees are not entitled to workers’ compensation when running personal errands during business hours.
- If you are traveling for work, if you get paid to drive, or if your boss specifically asks you to perform a work-related task that requires driving, absent special circumstances you should be able to claim workers’ compensation.
If you are eligible for workers’ compensation, under Texas law, this is generally your only option for pursuing a claim against your employer. However, filing a claim for workers’ compensation does not prevent you from pursuing compensation from other responsible parties. If another driver was negligent in causing the accident or if the accident was caused by defective part, you may be able to file an auto accident personal injury or product defect claim as well.
Can I Sue the Other Driver’s Employer?
Importantly, the limits on workers’ compensation do not apply to claims against other people’s employers. If you are injured while driving for work and the other driver was working at the time of the accident as well, you may be able to file a claim against his or her employer for full compensation. The legal principle known as “vicarious liability” makes employers liable for the actions of their employees undertaken “within the scope of employment.” This can include liability for injuries sustained in vehicle collisions.
Contact Morrow & Sheppard LLP for a Free Consultation
At Morrow & Sheppard LLP, we provide efficient, aggressive representation for individuals injured in work-related accidents in the Houston area and throughout Texas. If you have suffered a serious injury in a car or truck accident, our experienced lawyers can help you seek maximum compensation for your losses. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation, send us an email or call (800) 489-2216 today.