With laws against texting behind the wheel sweeping the nation, it is little surprise to anybody that using a mobile electronic device while driving can be highly dangerous. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, texting is banned by law for all drivers in 41 states and the District of Columbia, and an additional 6 states prohibit texting by novice drivers. A number of localities have even enacted their own laws targeting cell phone use behind the wheel.
When an injury occurs due to someone texting behind the wheel, victims may have several options to get the compensation they need for things like medical bills and lost wages while they are unable to work. While a personal injury lawsuit may be the type of remedy most accident victims first think of, if the accident involved company property or occurred within the scope of employment, workers' compensation may be a more useful type of remedy.
Unlike in a personal injury case, an injured worker does not have to prove fault in a workers' compensation claim. Employees who are injured within the scope of their employment are entitled to workers' compensation benefits, even if their own negligence contributed substantially to causing the accident. In return for providing workers' compensation benefits on a no-fault basis, employers are insulated from tort liability. In certain situations, this tradeoff is highly advantageous for injured workers.
While workers' comp claimants do not have to prove that their employer's negligence caused injury, they do have to establish that the injury occurred within the scope of employment. What does that mean in terms of texting while driving accidents? Generally, a texting accident that occurs on a public roadway is not compensable through workers' compensation, if the accident happened while commuting to or from work. However, if the injured employee's job duties include travel by motor vehicle, such an accident may indeed be compensable if the employee was undertaking these duties when injured.
Employees who are injured on company property or in a car or truck accident that involves company vehicles may also have a workers' compensation claim. For example, an employer who is struck and injured in the company parking lot by a coworker who was texting behind the wheel of the company truck may have a viable workers' compensation claim.
It is not always clear what the exact scope of employment is, and employers often try to deny workers' compensation benefits in borderline cases as a cost saving measure. If you have been injured in a workplace accident that involved texting, take steps to ensure you get the benefits to which you are entitled. Remember, under workers' compensation laws your own fault in causing the accident is generally immaterial, so do not let anyone tell you that you are not eligible for benefits because you contributed to causing an accident.
Talk to a workers' compensation lawyer today to learn more about pursuing the benefits you need after a texting related accident at work.
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