Bob looked through the windshield of his vehicle in disbelief. His heart pounding so hard he could feel it in his ears. Slowly he looks around. Trying to make sense of what just happened. His neck hurts and his face feels like it’s stinging.
Bob has just been in a motor vehicle accident. As a driver this is a hazard of employment that can happen. The question is…
Will WCB accept the injuries he just sustained?
To answer this question, we need to rewind a few hours to when Bob first got in the vehicle.
Worker Compensation has specific criteria that needs to be met in order to accept “travel related” claims.
Are travel claims accepted by WCB/WSIB/Worksafe?
The short answer is yes, but first WCB needs to answer: What was the reason for the employee to be driving? What was the purpose of the travel? If the worker was told / expected to be driving in that vehicle, at a time that was related to work, and for the purposes of carrying out work…then yes it could be accepted as a WCB claim. If a worker was travelling for work, but then decided to do something personal and was involved in a motor vehicle accident the claim may not be accepted. Does it matter where you drive? Yes. Typically Workers Compensation will want to make sure that the employee was on the most direct / reasonable route at the time of the accident. If the investigation were to find that the worker was not on the most direct route, then the claim could be denied. What if the employee was driving their personal vehicle vs. a company vehicle? The vehicle itself may be a factored into the decision, but ultimately it’s the purpose of the travel. Was this person driving to the office where they work in everyday and drive home, OR was this person going to an offsite meeting because their boss wanted them to attend it? How does a travel claim impact my account?
A claim that results from a worker traveling for work will impact your account in the same way any other accident or WCB claim will.
Depending on the province you’re working in, there are variances to this, but the short answer is it will affect you the same if it meets the proper policy.
How would I manage / investigate a motor vehicle accident? You would manage the claim in the same way you’d manage any other. Especially if WCB accepted the claim. You want to: - Investigate the reasons for the trip - Confirm Medical Restrictions - Offer modified duties - Support the worker in their recovery and return to work Investigation To investigate the claim, you want to confirm a few details:
1. Was the worker on the most direct route
a. Collect Witness statements and relevant documentation
2. Was the trip for the purpose / benefit of the employer
a. Eg. Delivery, transporting goods, going to a meeting, etc.
3. Did the worker deviate from the route or were they doing anything personal.
a. Taking a bathroom break is not considered personal.
4. Was this regular commuting.
a. Usually regular commuting is not considered as a WCB claim
Scenario #1 Bob was driving delivery to his drop-off point. Along the way, his wife called him and asked him to pick up a few groceries for tonight’s dinner. Bob, takes a right turn instead of going straight because there is a grocery store just 4 blocks away. Once he turns off, half a block down, Bob goes through an intersection and is hit on the side causing injuries to his neck and shoulder. Would this be accepted? Probably not. This is because while Bob was under the direction of his employer, and on the most direct route at the time. He took it upon himself to go off this route and do something personal (picking up groceries). When he turned right instead of going straight, he was no longer on the most direct route.
Bob has been driving for the past 3 hours and downed an extra-large double double.
He really needs the bathroom. Unfortunately, his delivery point is still an hour away. Bob sees a rest stop and decides to pull over, to relieve himself and pick up lunch. As he turns off, a vehicle comes out of nowhere and collides with Bob. Would this be accepted? Probably yes. Bob was on the most direct route, and still on track to make his delivery. It’s reasonable for a person to need to take a rest break and get refreshments. The fact that Bob turned off the main route was personal, but a reasonable expectation of his employment. Thus likely would be covered.
Brandy works at the main office. Each morning she wakes up, gets in her vehicle, and drives to the same office. She puts in her hours and then drives home. Every day Monday through Friday. Today, Brandy is on her way to work when a person on their cellphone rear-ends her at an intersection. She suffers from whiplash. Would this be accepted? Probably not. Although she was on her way to work, this is considered regular commuting. This is because she travels from home to the same office location and back to home. While it is expected for her to be at work each day, WCB most likely would consider this regular commuting and not accept the claim. What if… That morning, Brandy’s boss called her and asked her to go to the shop on the other side of town and make sure she attends the meeting for regional directors. On the way to the meeting, she’s involved in the same accident. Chances are WCB would accept this claim because she was under the direction of her employer, and in order to attend a different location, she had to travel to get there. This was not considered regular commuting.
How about some free advice? Have a WCB scenario or WCB question you think would be a good topic to discuss in a future article? 1. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org 2. Tell me the scenario regardless if WCB accepted or denied the claim 3. When your scenario is selected, we’ll send you the information to get your FREE access to our online WCB appeals course retailing at $349.99.
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