Most people associate
workers’ compensation with an employee who is injured by a fall or while using machinery. However,
there are many cases where an injury on the job involves operating a company vehicle.
What is Respondeat Superior?
The relationship between employers and employees who drive company vehicles
falls under the legal doctrine of “respondeat superior,” meaning
that employers are liable for the actions of their employees while “acting
within the scope of their employment.” This also includes paying
for property damage and injuries caused by the employee while operating
a company car. When an accident occurs on an employee’s own time,
such as traveling to and from work or during a lunch break, it is often
not considered work-related.
The scope of employment entails the following actions:
- Making a delivery
- Running an errand for work
- Driving to and from off-site jobs
- Travel for which the worker is compensated by the employer
- Driving another employee for work-related purposes
- Using the company vehicle while performing other job duties
Am I Eligible to Pursue a Civil Claim?
If you suffered an injury while driving for work-related purposes and the
accident was caused by a negligent third party, you may bring a
personal injury claim against the at-fault driver due to negligence. In a workers’
compensation claim, you can receive payments only for your medical bills
and lost earnings, not payments for any physical or mental pain and suffering.
These damages can be recovered in a personal injury claim.
However, a “lien” – which is an equivalent of a right
to reimbursement – can be involved if you receive workers’
comp benefits from your employer. This means that if you reach a settlement
agreement in the personal injury claim, your employer can obtain reimbursement
for the amount of workers’ comp benefits the employer paid you.
If you suffered an injury while performing job duties in Georgia,
contact our Cobb County workers’ comp attorney at
Chestnut & Beller and request a free consultation today.