If you must drive as part of your job, you may not realize the dangers you face of being injured or killed in a car accident. According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of employee deaths in the United States. If you are injured in one of these accidents—whether or not you were at fault in causing the accident—you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits under New Jersey law. However, it would be even better for you as a worker if your employer took these risks seriously and implemented safety procedures to reduce the chances that you would even be involved in a motor vehicle wreck.
Do You Work in One of These High-Risk Professions?
Workers in any profession may need to drive periodically to do an errand for their boss, pick up supplies, or other reasons. However, some individuals drive as part of their job or are behind the wheel most or all of their workday. They face a greater risk of being hurt in a motor vehicle accident. Employees who fall within this category include:
- Construction workers
- Home health care and home aid workers
- Sanitation workers
- Police officers
- Emergency medical technicians (EMT) and paramedics
- Delivery drivers
- Taxi, Uber, and other ride sharing drivers
- Bus drivers
- Truck drivers
Auto Crash Safety Precautions That Your Employer Should Take
Your employer can and should implement safety procedures that can reduce the risk that you will be involved in a motor vehicle wreck. These rules should be included in a written employee safety program. These include the following:
- Scheduling. Employers can increase the risk of an employee being hurt or killed in a car accident by overscheduling the employee and making him rush when driving. Your employer should plan your work schedule so that you can obey speed limits and realistically get your work done. In addition, you and your employer or supervisor should agree on the route, destination, and travel schedule and review potential construction work that could cause delays during your workday.
- Seat belts. Your employer should have a policy that seat belts must be worn at all times by employees and passengers and enforce this vital safety rule. You should follow it too and buckle up at all times.
- Distracted driving. Distracted driving is a major cause of motor vehicle accidents. Your employer should ban any texting and use of hand-held electronic devices, such as cellphones, tablets, and GPS, while employees like you are driving. In addition, eating and drinking when driving can also lead to wrecks. Your employer should provide you with sufficient breaks so that you do not feel the need to eat a meal and drive.
- Drowsy driving. Many people do not get sufficient sleep and drive when drowsy. This can be as dangerous as driving when intoxicated. Your employer should not require you to drive irregular hours or long after your workday is over—which can increase the risk that you would cause a crash due to fatigue. In addition, implementing a policy allowing workers to take a 30-minute nap or to stop for the night when too tired to drive can also help keep you and other motorists safe.
- Intoxication. Your employer should have a policy banning driving when intoxicated due to alcohol or drug use or the use of prescription or over-the-counter medications that affect driving abilities. There should be zero tolerance for this dangerous practice.
- Training. Your employer must ensure that you are properly trained to drive if you are driving a delivery van, bus, truck, or other commercial vehicle. Your employer should also ensure that any workers—including you—have a valid license for the vehicle being driven and a safe driving history.
- Hours of service rules. Federal regulations govern how many hours certain employees, such as truck and bus drivers, can drive without taking a break. If you must follow these federal hours of service rules, your employer should insist on compliance—including record keeping to document this—and not encourage you or others to violate these rules.
Unfortunately, you could still be injured in an auto accident if your employer implements these practices and you follow them. You may have a claim for workers’ compensation benefits and a third-party claim against the negligent driver who caused your wreck. You need the assistance of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to obtain the compensation that you deserve. To learn how I can help, call my office today to schedule your free case evaluation.