Vehicle accidents in the workplace are among the most common workplace accidents in Illinois and across the country.
As the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports, 63 of the fatal occupational injuries that occurred in Illinois in 2013 were transportation-related accidents.
Nationally, about 16 percent of fatal transportation incidents (284 cases) in 2013 involved pedestrians who were struck by vehicles, according to the BLS’s Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries.
Fatal transportation incidents were lower by 10 percent in 2013, but still accounted for about 2 out of every 5 fatal work injuries in 2013.
According to a 2013 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is often a young driver involved in a work-related motor vehicle accident.
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of work-related fatalities among young people in the United States ages 16 to 24, the CDC reports.
From 2003 to 2010, 843 workers ages 16 to 24 died in motor vehicle crashes at work, accounting for 22 percent of all workplace fatalities in this age group. In 67 percent of these incidents, the young worker was driving the vehicle involved in the crash.
The risk of being in a fatal motor vehicle accident for young workers is highest in the waste management, mining and agriculture industries. Older workers (age 25 and older) are more at risk in the transportation / warehousing, waste management, mining and agriculture industries.
Consequences of Work-Related Motor Vehicle Accidents
According to an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guide for employers, job-related motor vehicle crashes cost employers $60 billion annually in medical care, legal expenses, property damage and lost productivity.
The average crash costs an employer$16,500. When a worker has an on-the-job crash that results in an injury, the cost to their employer is $74,000. Costs can exceed $500,000 when a fatality is involved.
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Most of the costs for injuries or deaths in work-related motor vehicle accidents are paid through workers’ compensation benefits, which ultimately cost employers through increased workers’ comp insurance premiums.
In cases in which a worker injures someone else, the employer may be held liable for the worker’s negligence and compelled to pay for the injured party’s losses.
For example, another driver, a pedestrian or survivors of a driver or pedestrian may file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit against the driver’s employer.
Workers injured in motor vehicle accidents while on the job are barred by workers’ compensation laws from suing their employer. Still, they may pursue “third party” lawsuits against anyone responsible for the car crash who is not an employer. This could include another driver or manufacturer responsible for a defective vehicle or automotive part that caused an accident.
In the case of injuries in a crash caused by a co-worker who was driving, the injured worker could seek compensation beyond workers’ comp benefits through their colleague’s auto insurance.
Transportation-related work accidents occur frequently in Chicago and across Illinois. They are costly physically, emotionally and economically.