Car Accidents and Workplace Injuries
Car accidents are the No. 1 cause of occupational fatalities and are in the middle of the pack on most top 10 lists of occupational injuries.
These often are severe injuries with life-altering consequences. Adding insult to injury is the fact that one of these consequences often is a diminished ability to earn a living – or in some cases the complete inability to bring home a paycheck.
While accidents that happen during the commute to and from work are generally not covered by workers’ compensation, crashes that occur while on the job generally are covered. If you have been hurt in a work-related car accident, you should talk to an experienced attorney to learn more about your legal rights and options.
Remember that workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, which means you could still recover workers’ compensation benefits even if the crash was your fault.
The legal team at the Kenton Koszdin Law Office concentrates on helping injured and disabled workers pursue the compensation they deserve after work-related car accidents. Let us guide you through the process, handle all your paperwork, and fight for the compensation you deserve. Call or contact us online today to schedule a free consultation.
When Is a Car Accident Work-Related?
Statisticians have affirmed that car accidents are the leading cause of occupational injuries, but what qualifies as a work-related auto accident is a matter for lawyers and judges, not number crunchers. That distinction makes all the difference when it comes to financial compensation for medical care and lost wages.
Injuries must be work-related for you to qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. Here’s the simple word on when a car accident may be considered work-related. In the eyes of California officials considering workers’ compensation claims and employer liability, an employee’s crash and injuries are work-related if:
- The employee is executing his or her duties in the course of a workday.
- The employee is performing a work-related errand while commuting to or from work.
Common Types of Car Accident Injuries
California crash statistics use numbers to paint a grim picture: 3,126 people killed, 230,904 people hurt, 2,882 fatal crashes, and 162,742 injury collisions during one recent year. The picture is more gruesome when the word “injury” is replaced with the actual types of car accident injuries and the realities behind them:
- Broken bones: Beyond casts, there can be surgeries, often with insertion of hardware to hold bones in place. Recovery can take months and mean lingering pain, nerve or blood vessel damage, and eventually arthritis. Blood loss, blood clots, or infection are among causes of death for fracture victims.
- Back and spinal cord injuries: Degree of injury dictates complexity, length, and effectiveness of treatment. Care can include painful physical and occupational therapy and even vocational rehabilitation. Partial or full paralysis is possible. Crashes also yield potentially crippling tears, sprains, and strains of muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the back.
- Traumatic head and brain injuries: Survive the emergency care stage and you could face physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech or language therapy, and vocational therapy during an excruciating recovery process that can include multiple surgeries. Loss of cognitive capacity and personality characteristics is likely, along with loss of sensation, motor skills, sight, and hearing. Psychological effects can range from slight depression to a lifetime in a vegetative state.
- Whiplash: Symptoms can range from neck pain and stiffness to headaches, dizziness, tingling or numbness in the arms, blurred vision, ringing in the ears, trouble sleeping, difficulty concentrating, problems with memory, and depression. Effects can be short-term, but some people suffer long-term chronic pain and other complications.
- Burns: Along with first-, second-, and third-degree burns, accident victims can suffer smoke and heat inhalation that can cause internal burns, carbon-monoxide poisoning, and damage from inhaled toxins. Treatment can mean months of hospitalization fighting serious infection and undergoing multiple skin grafts and other surgeries, psychological/ psychiatric care, a variety of rehabilitative therapies.
- Sprains and strains: These are soft-tissue injuries such as whiplash. A sprain is the stressing or tearing of ligaments. Symptoms can be slow to appear, and the pain can be chronic. Strains are the stressing or tearing of tendon and/or muscle. Treatments for both run the gamut from ice packs and elevation of the injured area to painkillers, physical therapy, and surgeries.
- Cuts and bruises: Flesh wounds that don’t require stitches can still cause infection. Scrapes and bruises also can signal serious internal injuries. A medical assessment can identify underlying injuries that could go unnoticed and become more problematic without care.
One signature effect of a car crash is that damage done in seconds can last a lifetime – or end one. Partial or full paralysis and death are among potential consequences. Crippling financial damage can result, too, so it helps to know how to position yourself for financial recovery after a crash.
What to Do If You Are Hurt in a Car Accident at Work
The first and most important thing to do after a car accident is to get all necessary medical help. If able, call the police and make sure an accident report is filed. There are other steps that can be taken to help you make a legal case for compensation if it comes to that.
Take notes and photos, including details about potential witnesses.
- Save all paperwork the incident generates, including receipts for related expenses, and keep a record of all lost wages.
- Be careful what you say, and don’t admit fault.
The California Department of Industrial Relations offers some good advice and information for occupational injury victims:
- Your employer must give or mail you a workers’ comp benefits application form within a day of you reporting your injury.
- If your employer does not give you a claim form, get one from a workers’ comp information and assistance officer. Read everything that comes with the claim form.
- Fill out and sign the employee portion of the form. Describe injuries thoroughly. Include every part of your body affected by the accident. Give the form to your employer. This is called filing the claim form.
- If you mail the form to your employer, use first-class or certified mail and buy a return receipt.
The victim isn’t the only person with an after-accident to-do list. Your employer must:
- Provide a workers’ compensation claim form to you within one working day after a work-related injury or illness is reported
- Return a completed copy of the claim form to you within one working day of receipt
- Forward the claim form, along with the employer’s report of occupational injury or illness, to the claims administrator within one working day of receipt
- Within one day of receiving your claim, authorize up to $10,000 in appropriate medical treatment
- Provide transitional work (light duty) whenever appropriate
- If you are the victim of a crime that happened at work, the employer must give notice of workers’ compensation eligibility within one working day of the crime.
Injuries from a work-related car accident can alter lives beyond recognition. One way to deal with the financial damage is to get a qualified workers’ compensation law team on your side.
You Can Turn to the Kenton Koszdin Law Office for Help
The Kenton Koszdin Law Office has put heart, soul, and mind into clients’ battles for workers’ compensation benefits for injuries caused by work-related car crashes. The result has been rewarding for accident victims and a source of invaluable experience for attorneys well-versed in California law.
Contact us today for a free, no obligation case evaluation. Unable to leave home? Ask for a free in-home consultation.