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Are Injuries Sustained While Traveling Covered By Workers’ Compensation?

man driving for workWhile some may argue that the days of the traveling salesman are long gone, this simply isn’t true. While most sales employees don’t go door to door, trying to sell goods to individuals in their homes, they do travel from business to business, offering samples and making presentations to company owners and managers. These aren’t the only types of employees who are traveling regularly – with the creation of the internet, shipping businesses have boomed and there are more truckers than ever.  In fact, around one-third of all employees travel for work.

Studies have shown, that whatever their occupation if a person travels for work, they are more likely to be injured while on the job. Unfortunately, obtaining workers’ compensation insurance coverage becomes that much harder.

The Course Of Employment

In order to determine if an employee is entitled to workers’ compensation, insurance companies want to confirm that the injury occurred during the scope of their employment. This means that at the time of the accident which caused them harm, the employee must be participating in activities that they might reasonably undertake as part of their job. For traveling employees, they are considered acting under the scope of employment if:

Traveling Between Multiple Job Sites

If an employee has to travel to multiple job sites in order to get their job done and they are involved in an accident, these injuries should be covered. The accident may occur in either a personal vehicle or a work vehicle.

The “Special Mission”

Typically, during the average commute to and from work, an employee is not covered by workers’ comp. However, if their employer has requested that they run an errand for them, they are now considered to be acting under the scope of employment.

Commercial Traveling

When an employee is on a business trip, typically they are considered covered during the entire time that they are away because they are traveling for business.

Traveling IS The Employee’s Duty

This rule applies to pilots, truckers, bus drivers, delivery truck drivers, etc because, in order for them to complete their actual job, they must operate some sort of vehicle.

What If The Accident Was The Employee’s Fault?

Workers’ compensation is a “no-fault” insurance which means that even if careless or distracted navigation resulted in the accident, the employee should remain coverable. There are a few times where there are exceptions to this rule and typically apply if the driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs while operating a vehicle.

What Does It Mean If My Employer Is Contesting My Claim?

When an employer contests a claim, it means they are trying to argue that the employee’s claim is not valid and so should not be paid out under their workers’ compensation policy. For example, a plane taking offan employer may argue that an employee was taking personal time to sightsee while on a business trip and that the accident occurred during that time.

Proving that a claim should be paid can be difficult and time-consuming, not to mention stressful for a person who is also experiencing physical pain and discomfort. Since workers’ comp law is intricate, it’s best to work with an attorney as soon as possible, even before the initial application has been submitted. Injured workers who consult an attorney immediately after their injury have a much higher chance of obtaining the necessary compensation for their medical expenses and lost wages immediately.

The Appeals Process

If a claim is denied, that doesn’t mean that all hope is lost. An appeal can be filed, although it must be filed quickly, within 30 days of the denial. This appeal must be made in writing to the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board who will then have a panel of three board members review the case.

The panel has three options: affirming the decision, modifying the decision, or sending the case to a judge for additional review.

If a denial is again given, then an appeal can be made to the Appellate Division. This must go through the Court of Appeals and is best done with the help of an experienced attorney.

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