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Determining if a car accident is work-related or not

Every day, employees in Massachusetts travel to and from work via their personal vehicle or company car. Additionally, some occupations require that an employee travel during work hours to conduct business. Because employees are often behind the wheel on any given workday, what happens if he or she is injured in an automobile collision? Do workers' compensation benefits cover damages caused these types of accidents?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, faces many challenges when determining whether an injury or illness is work-related, and questions regarding car accidents during a commute to work or during work hours is often questioned. According to OSHA, they have never considered injuries caused by a wreck occurring in normal commute to and from work to be a recordable work injury. Even if an employee is driving a company vehicle when they get into a motor vehicle collision, this does not deem the injury reportable as a work injury. For those crashes that occur during the course of employment, such as transportation of goods or traveling to a business meeting, OSHA considers these incidents to be related to the duties of the employee, thus making them a work-related injury.

Despite that, there are some exceptions to this rule. If the employee takes a side trip or detours for personal reasons, a wreck will not be considered to be in line with their work duties. Therefore, if an accident were to occur when an employee, during working hours, made a stop to pick something up to cook for dinner that night, then any injuries suffered would not be considered work-related.

Understanding what automobile injuries are covered by workers' compensation can be critical to an individual's physical and financial well-being, as workers' compensation may be able to help a victim acquire needed medical assistance and financial stability. Those unsure if an incident qualifies them for these benefits might find it beneficial to speak with a workers' compensation attorney. This could help an individual make an informed decision regarding his or her legal rights and take the necessary steps to protect his or her interests.

Source: Business & Legal Resources, "Is it work-related? OSHA answers common recordkeeping questions," Emily Clark, May 20, 2015

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