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A regular car accident is hard enough to deal with, but when you’re injured in a vehicle-related accident while on the job, things can get very complex, very quickly. Call a Bryan, TX car accident lawyer as soon as possible to get started protecting yourself.

From a Bryan, TX Car Accident Lawyer: How to Deal with a Work-Related Vehicle Injury

Initial Steps

Reporting the Injury

The first critical step after a work-related vehicle injury is to report the incident to the employer immediately. Texas law mandates that injured workers inform their employers about a work-related injury within 30 days, and any delay in reporting can lead to complications in claiming workers’ compensation. It’s important to document the incident thoroughly, including the time, place, and circumstances of the injury.

Seeking Medical Attention

Immediate medical attention is key not only for the well-being of the injured party but also for legal reasons. Medical records will be important in substantiating the injury claim, and the injured worker should inform the healthcare provider that the injury is work-related.

Under Texas law, the employer may have the right to choose the doctor for work-related injuries or may allow the employee to pick their own healthcare provider, depending on the specifics of the workers’ compensation insurance policy. However, bear in mind that if it’s an emergency situation, the injured party has the right to get critical care from any doctor.

Eligibility for Workers’ Compensation

Most employers carry workers’ compensation insurance, which is designed to provide medical benefits and replace lost wages for injured workers. However, it’s important to note that Texas doesn’t require all employers to have this insurance. Employees should verify their employer’s status regarding workers’ compensation coverage, as this affects the options available after an injury.

Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim

If the employer is covered by workers’ compensation, the injured worker must file a claim with the Texas Department of Insurance, Division of Workers’ Compensation. This claim is a form called the DWC Form-041, Employee’s Claim for Compensation for a Work-Related Injury or Occupational Disease, and it should be filed as soon as possible but no later than one year from the date of the accident. Filing a claim starts the process, and you can file online or send your claim by mail to:
Division of Workers’ Compensation
PO Box 12050
Austin, TX 78711

You can also send the form by fax at 512-804-4378.

Types of Work-Related Vehicle Injuries

Driving While Working

This is often an issue for delivery drivers, sales representatives who travel between clients, repair technicians driving to job sites, and anyone else whose job entails operating a vehicle.

Collisions with Other Motorists

Even if another motorist causes the accident, workers’ compensation benefits may still be available.

Accidents as Passengers

Sometimes employees are injured as passengers in company vehicles, such as employees riding along to a job site, and passengers are still entitled to worker’s compensation.

Pedestrian Accidents

Workers can certainly suffer injuries as pedestrians if they are struck by vehicles while on the job.

Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Work-Related Vehicle Injuries

The availability of workers’ compensation benefits depends partly on whether an employee is using a company car or their own personal vehicle. Workers’ compensation is generally the sole remedy when an employee is injured in an accident while driving a company-owned vehicle during the course and scope of their job.

The analysis becomes slightly more complicated when an employee is driving their own car for a work-related purpose. Workers’ compensation benefits may still be available if the employee was fulfilling a specific work assignment and operating their vehicle within their job duties. It’s important to consult with an experienced attorney as soon as possible following an accident, as timely reporting and investigation are key to preserving evidence and establishing a solid claim.

Liability in Work-Related Vehicle Injuries

Determining Fault

Determining liability in work-related vehicle accidents can be very hard. In some cases, the employer may be liable, particularly if the accident occurred while the employee was performing job-related duties. However, if the employee was found to be violating company policy or breaking the law at the time of the accident, this could impact the liability determination. And, of course, you may be harmed by someone else (a “third party”) while traveling for work-related reasons.

Third-Party Claims

Sometimes the negligence of individuals or entities other than the employer plays a role in on-the-job vehicle accidents. In that case, an injured worker may have the right to file a personal injury claim against the third-party and their insurance company. Claims against negligent drivers who caused an accident are common. An example would be if a driver of another vehicle runs a red light and strikes a delivery truck. In such situations, the injured worker can file a claim against the at-fault driver in addition to seeking workers’ compensation benefits.

If an accident stems from, say, a defective auto part or a design flaw, injured victims may have a claim against the vehicle’s manufacturer. Poorly designed roadways, negligent signage, and inadequate maintenance work performed by construction companies can lead to accidents impacting workers driving as part of their employment, and there may be third parties negligent in these cases, as well.

Employer Negligence

Employers may be liable, and a worker may be able to sue them if their negligence contributed to the vehicle accident. Common examples of potential employer liability include:

Negligent Hiring or Retention

Employers have a responsibility to hire competent drivers with clean driving records. Failing to check an applicant’s driving history, or knowingly employing someone with hazardous driving tendencies, can expose a company to liability. Employers must also exercise reasonable care to retain qualified drivers.

Inadequate Training

Employers must provide appropriate training to employees who drive as part of their job, especially if they will be using specialized vehicles or equipment. Employers could be held liable if they fail to train drivers sufficiently and accidents result from an employee’s inexperience.

Poor Vehicle Maintenance

Companies that own vehicles must maintain them in a safe operating condition. Mechanical failures due to improper maintenance are often grounds for legal action.

Statute of Limitations

It’s important to understand that Texas has specific deadlines (called statutes of limitations) for filing legal claims. Injured workers usually must file a notice of injury within 30 days of the accident date, and a formal claim within one year from the injury date. These deadlines are strict, and failure to meet them can result in the loss of benefits.

Texas law provides a two-year statute of limitations for most personal injury lawsuits stemming from motor vehicle accidents, starting from the date of the accident. This would apply if a worker needs to bring a lawsuit against a third party or a negligent employer. In all cases, the sooner you get a Bryan, TX car accident lawyer attorney involved, the better.

Getting the compensation you deserve after a work-related vehicle injury in Texas requires an understanding of workers’ compensation, liability issues, legal rights and responsibilities, how to deal with insurance companies and more. The best way to ensure your rights are protected is to contact a lawyer, and the earlier the better. Contact Brian Gutierrez, Personal Injury Trial Lawyer right away for dedicated and experienced legal support.

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