Workplace injuries behind the wheel
While workers face many threats of injury in various occupations, the greatest source of injuries and deaths among workers is still vehicle crashes.
When most people think of accidents and injuries on the job, they probably think of a construction worker falling from scaffolding, a roofer falling off a roof or a waiter slipping on a spill in a restaurant. While all of those types of injuries do happen on the job, there is one type of accident that happens more frequently than any other and kills and injures more workers than any other: crashes involving motor vehicles.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that in 2013 alone that these types of crashes cost employers $25 billion. In the period between 2003 and 2014, 22,000 workers died due to motor vehicle crashes. While you might suspect that most of these individuals had some type of job that involves driving, like a truck driver or delivery service, 58 percent of these deaths were of individuals who were not in an occupation that involved vehicles.
Everyone drives sometimes
The reality is that motor vehicles are such a ubiquitous part of American life that virtually any job could entail the worker needing to drive at some point. If you work in the Atlanta area, there are limited transit options and in most cases, driving a motor vehicle is the only option.
This means millions of workers are exposed to the risk of being involved in a car or truck crash. Driving is typically the most dangerous activity that most people engage in, and even if you work in an occupation that typically involves no driving, such as an office worker, there are situations where you could need to drive for your job to another office, run to a store for supplies or attend a meeting away your office.
It often is the other driver’s fault
During this time, even if you are a careful and conscientious driver, you are exposed to the potential negligence of other drivers, who may be distracted on their phone, texting, reading emails or their GPS or any of the millions of other distracting activities drivers insist on engaging in when they should be focused on the road.
Employers have a strong interest in helping to keep workers safe when driving. All employers should have written safety plans covering their employees when they are behind the wheel, as the cost of a crash could be significant for small and moderate sized businesses. The average cost to employers for a non-fatal injury crash was $65,000 in 2013. If a worker died, the cost skyrocketed to $671,000.
Fatal crashes can be damaging for a business
Beyond the cost of workers’ compensation insurance, litigation expenses and the repair of damaged vehicles imagine if one or more of your key employees were killed or severely injured in a vehicle crash. Such an incident could damage your business operations and potentially compromise your business.
As an employer, you can help make a difference by requiring that every driver and passenger wear a seat belt on every trip, no exceptions. A staggering number of deaths occur in motor vehicle crashes because occupants failed to wear their seat belt, so make it clear to all employees that seat belts are mandatory at all times.
In addition, if you have been injured on the job while driving by someone else, you may be able to file a third-party claim for compensation against that party, outside the standard workers’ compensation system. The attorneys at Tillman & Associates can review your facts and discuss your options. In those cases where the injury is caused by another driver’s negligence, we will not only advise you about that situation but we can and will represent you in that personal injury case as well. By representing you in both cases, as the medical records and bills are the same, we can coordinate how the cases are resolved, particularly as to any subrogation interest the worker’s compensation carrier may assert under their rights per Georgia law. We can often make them go away as part of resolving the worker’s compensation case.