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Your Legal Rights When You Get in an Accident While Commuting

Workers' Compensation

For many workers in Ohio, the daily commute is one of the most dangerous aspects of their job. Car accidents are among the most common causes of traumatic injuries, and they can happen anywhere and any time. So, if you get injured in an accident while commuting, what are your legal rights? 

Workers’ Compensation Does Not Cover Commuter Accidents in Most Cases

Unfortunately, workers’ compensation does not cover commuting accidents in most cases. If you drive to the same location every day, then your commute most likely is not a “job-related activity” for workers’ compensation purposes. With that said, there are some exceptions.

For example, the general rule that workers’ compensation does not cover commuting accidents applies to “fixed-situs” employees. If you drive to the same location every day, then you are most likely a “fixed-situs” employee—because your commute takes you to a fixed location. However, if you drive to different job sites from your home, or if you work at a customer’s location instead of a location owned by your employer, then the “fixed-situs” rule may not apply.

Even if you work at a fixed location owned by your employer, you could still be entitled to workers’ compensation for a commuting accident in some cases. There are three main scenarios in which the “fixed-situs” limitation does not apply:

  • “Zone of employment” – If your accident occurred within the “zone of employment,” you can file a workers’ compensation claim (assuming you are otherwise eligible). The “zone of employment” refers to the physical area surrounding your employer’s location, such as the parking lot and points of entry and exit.
  • “Special Hazard” – You can also file a workers’ compensation claim if your accident involved a “special hazard” created by your employment. A “special hazard” is any work-related health condition or other factor that impairs your ability to drive safely.
  • “Totality of the Circumstances” – Finally, you may be able to file for workers’ compensation benefits if the “totality of the circumstances” surrounding your accident establishes a causal connection to your employment. This could be the case, for example, if you were running a job-related errand on the way to work.

What if You Can’t Seek Workers’ Compensation for Your Commuting Accident?

Let’s assume Ohio’s “fixed-situs” rule prevents you from filing for workers’ compensation (although you should never make assumptions about your legal rights). What options do you have available?

While you might not be eligible for workers’ compensation, you can still pursue a claim just as you would after a car accident occurring under any other circumstances. This means you can file an insurance claim if the other driver was at fault, and you can file a “third party” claim if some other factor (i.e. a road or vehicle defect) played a role in the crash. 

Crucially, even if you are eligible for workers’ compensation, you can still file these claims. This is important because workers’ compensation doesn’t necessarily cover all of the costs associated with accident-related injuries.

Speak with a Lawyer at Malek & Malek for Free

Were you injured in a car accident while commuting? If so, we encourage you to contact us promptly for a free consultation. To speak with a Columbus workers’ compensation lawyer about your legal rights in confidence, call 888-444-7440 or get in touch online now.