The short answer is that it’s possible your injuries are covered. The longer answer requires some background on South Carolina workers’ compensation insurance, which is no-fault coverage for employees who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses. Generally, a South Carolina employer with four or more employees is required to carry workers’ comp insurance to cover your medical bills and two-thirds of the wages you lose due to your injury or illness, with some exceptions.
Not all work-related accidents happen in the workplace. If your job requires you to work off-site or in different locations, injuries you sustain while doing so should be covered by workers’ comp.
The Coming and Going Rule Regarding Charleston, South Carolina Workers' Compensation
The South Carolina Workers' Compensation Commission (SCWCC) allows benefits for injuries suffered within the scope of employment. In general, the scope of employment doesn’t include traveling to and from work since most people aren’t paid for commuting. There are, however, some exceptions to this rule. Your accident might be covered by workers’ comp if:
- You’re given work-related errands to run on your way to or from work.
- You’re asked by your employer to perform a non-work-related errand or task, like picking up lunch or coffee.
- You’re forced to drive on dangerous roads or in unsafe areas to get to work.
- You’re injured close to your workplace, perhaps in a parking lot due to ice or snow.
- You’re traveling in a company-owned vehicle.
As long as you’re authorized to use the company vehicle to commute and do not deviate significantly from your direct route, injuries you sustain traveling to or from work should generally be covered. Because workers’ comp is no-fault insurance, it doesn’t matter who causes your company car accident.
Whether you’re at fault or hurt by a negligent driver, if you are on the job when injured, workers’ comp should cover your work-related medical bills and two-thirds of wages you lose due to your work-related injury, illness, or disability, up to a maximum weekly payment ($903.40 in 2020). If you’re disabled, the number of weeks for which you may collect benefits depends on your specific disability.
Workers’ Compensation vs. Liability Insurance
If workers’ comp benefits aren’t sufficient to cover all your damages, you might have to file both a workers’ comp claim and a claim against the at-fault driver who injured you. An experienced lawyer can help you handle the complexities of doing both at the same time.
Although workers’ comp covers your work related injuries and lost wages regardless of who causes your accident, it doesn’t cover your liability if you caused the accident. The victims in the crash may file a claim for damages against you and perhaps your employer. For this reason, it’s vital that your employer have liability coverage for employees driving company-owned vehicles.
Vicarious Liability In Regards To Workers' Compensation
If you are found fully or partially responsible for your accident, your employer could be vicariously liable. This means your employer might be responsible for damages caused by your negligent actions on the job, depending on exactly what you’re doing when the crash occurs.
Your employer could be vicariously liable if you’re:
- Going to or from a training meeting
- Going to or from any location chosen by the employer
- Traveling to or from a meeting with a client
- Running company errands
Your employer might not be vicariously liable if you’re:
- Deviating from your direct route to get coffee or food on the way to an appointment
- Traveling to places not chosen by your employer
- Committing a crime or driving when impaired by alcohol or drugs
- Driving to or from work
It’s important to remember, though, that the rules of coming and going, as well as vicarious liability, are subject to interpretation. Your case might go either way depending upon how your evidence is presented before the SCWCC or before a judge and jury if your case ends up in appeals court.
Have You Been Injured On The Job?
If you've been hurt at your job you can speak with a workers' compensation lawyer. Please contact us online or call our Charleston, South Carolina office directly at 843.488.2359 to schedule your consultation. We are also able to meet clients at our Conway, Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Mt. Pleasant, North Myrtle Beach or North Charleston office locations.