These days, many employers in Culpeper, Warrenton, and other areas of Virginia encourage workers to ride-share or carpool to work. It’s a way to be “green” and cut down on traffic congestion on our busy Fauquier county roads.
So, what happens if your company has encouraged you to ride-share or carpool, and you are killed while riding in somebody else’s car? Is your employer somehow responsible for your death – and do they owe your estate workers’ compensation death benefits – because they encouraged you to carpool?
In one recent lawsuit the answer was no, the employer is not responsible for a worker’s death in a carpool accident. The estate for the deceased employee argued that the employer had assumed responsibility for the employee when they encouraged workers to carpool. This means, argued the estate, that the accident happened in the scope of the worker’s employment.
The court did not agree with this reasoning. Why?
- The vehicle involved in the fatal accident was not a company-owned vehicle
- The employer had no contract in place to transport workers from home to office
- The employer did not pay a driver to transport workers
- The employee driving the car involved in the crash was not working on the day that the accident happened.
So, just because your boss thinks it is great that you carpool, don’t expect workers’ comp benefits if you are hurt in a ride-share accident. Unless, of course the carpool ride was within the scope of your work. Not sure? Ask an experienced Virginia workers comp attorney to go over your situation with you.