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b2ap3_thumbnail_work-truck-vehicle-accident-liability.jpgDetermining liability after a car accident can be tricky - even trickier if the accident was work-related. As a general rule, if you were actively carrying out a work-related task, you can probably use Workers’ Compensation to recover damages. However, depending on what happened, there could be a liable third party you could pursue compensation from. A number of circumstances and factors can affect liability when an auto accident is work-related. In some cases, you may have multiple options. If you were hurt in a car accident at work, you will probably need to contact an attorney who can assess your case and determine how best to go about getting you compensated. 

What If I Get in an Accident on My Commute?

If you were merely commuting to or from work, you were probably not on the job for purposes of getting Workers’ Compensation. This does not mean you are out of luck - you will just need to pursue compensation from the responsible driver or their insurance company. The same applies to accidents that occur while you are on break. 

There is an exception to this rule. If you were driving a company vehicle and your accident was caused by a vehicle defect, then you may be able to pursue Workers’ Compensation. 

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San Jose workers' compensation attorneyThe Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets out safety standards for a good reason. Without these federal standards in place, quite a few more workers would be trying to do their jobs in an unsafe environment. OSHA standards exist to force employers to take employee safety seriously and put measures in place to minimize the occurrence of workplace injuries. However, there are some employers who still stubbornly refuse to comply with OSHA’s safety requirements. When a violation occurs, everyone on the job site could be at risk.

Each year, OSHA publishes a list of the most commonly cited safety violations. Sadly, these violations are often not discovered until someone gets hurt and needs workers’ compensation. Note that you do not need to prove that your employer was at fault or in violation of a safety law to receive workers’ compensation. However, a violation does increase the chances that an injury will occur. Any time you suffer a workplace injury, the smart move is to immediately contact an attorney. 

What Are the Most Common Categories of OSHA Violations?

While it is possible to get hurt at work even when all safety procedures are correctly followed, injuries are more likely to occur when they are not. Some of the most common types of safety violations include: 

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California workers comp attorneyNo one wants to end up in a position where they need to rely on Workers’ Compensation. You would almost certainly prefer that the workplace accident or incident that left you injured had never happened. Being sidelined due to a workplace injury can bring a lot of new anxieties and struggles into your life. On top of trying to recover physically and emotionally, you are probably worried about recovering financially as well. The expenses associated with a workplace injury can add up very quickly when you stop to think about it. The good news here is that Workers’ Compensation should cover most if not all of your expenses related to the accident - including future costs you may not even be thinking about yet. A Workers’ Compensation attorney can help you come up with a complete list of your accident-related costs that could be compensable. 

Compensable Expenses After a Workplace Accident

Generally speaking, just about any expense or loss you incur as a result of your workplace injury should be compensable. It is important to have an attorney help you take a thorough accounting of your costs related to the accident. You probably know that your current medical bills and some lost wages can be recovered, but you could also be compensated for: 

  • Future medical care - Rarely can a major workplace injury be treated in just one trip to the ER or Urgent Care. You may not have a complete understanding of what kind of medical care you will need going forward yet. In some cases, you will need to wait and see if an injury improves with conservative treatment before more drastic interventions like surgery are decided on. 
  • Job training - If you will not be able to return to the job you had due to your injuries, but you are not totally disabled, you could potentially receive funding to help pay for vocational training or education that can help you start a new career. 
  • Disability - Whether you are permanently, temporarily, partially, or totally disabled, you can receive compensation for your lost present and future earnings due to the disability. An attorney can help you calculate the amount of income you would have earned going forward before and after the accident. 

These are just a few costs and losses you could be compensated for through workers’ compensation. Make sure that you speak to an attorney before you consider accepting a settlement offer. 

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California workplace injury lawyerWorkplace accidents can happen when you least expect them. What starts out as a perfectly normal day at work can end in a disaster. Whether your job is largely considered “dangerous,” like types of construction work, or mostly safe, like retail work, the fact is that a workplace injury can happen to anyone. Even people with desk jobs have been injured at work. This is why it is so important for everyone to know exactly how to respond just in case it does happen to you. The way you handle the situation as it unfolds can be extremely important later. Making a mistake could harm your case when it comes time to seek compensation, while handling everything correctly could make it much more difficult for your employer to deny your claim. One of the most important things you can possibly do after a workplace injury is to contact an attorney who can offer you further guidance. 

The Moments After the Accident Matter

Everything you do from the second the accident happens counts. While the most important thing is to prevent further harm and get to safety, some other helpful tips for reacting to a workplace accident include: 

  • Follow procedures - If your company has a policy or procedure to follow during this type of accident or incident, like “if a fire starts, hit the emergency shutoff and clear the floor,” follow it. Failing to follow your company’s safety protocols can be used against you to argue that you made your injury worse by not taking the right steps. 
  • Stay down - Unless you absolutely need to move to get out of harm’s way, it is generally best to remain as still as possible until first responders arrive and tell you otherwise. Back and neck injuries can be worsened, sometimes drastically, if you get up too quickly. 
  • Watch your words - Avoid saying things like, “I am okay,” or “It was not your fault.” It is generally best to avoid making any sort of assertion about your physical condition or how the accident happened until you have met with an attorney. 
  • Get care - Even if you do not think your injuries are particularly serious, it is best to let a doctor check you out. Adrenaline, the chemical involved in your body’s fight-or-flight response, can act as a natural painkiller so that you do not realize how badly you have been hurt right away. Besides, your workers’ compensation should cover your initial medical bills, so you have little or nothing to lose by seeking prompt care. 
  • Take notes - Try to remember and make at least a mental note about everything that happened before and during the accident. 

Once you safely can, it is a good idea to get in contact with a qualified workers’ compensation lawyer. Even if you anticipate a relatively smooth claims process, having a lawyer handle it for you can give you some much-needed time to rest and recover. 

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Santa Clara County workers compensation attorney

Originally published: March 31, 2021 -- Updated: April 27, 2022

UPDATE: In cases where workers experience mental disorders, they may struggle to perform work and meet all the requirements of employment. Because of this, they may experience negative consequences, and they could even lose their jobs. However, California law allows workers to pursue workers’ compensation claims in these situations even after the termination of employment, as long as the circumstances that led to the injury occurred before the termination took place.

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