As an employer or business owner, you have concerns for the safety and well-being of your employees. Beyond what the law requires you to provide to ensure their protection from hazards on the job, you may also take a personal interest in their good health and state of mind. If an employee is injured on the job, you likely feel genuine concern for his or her recovery.

However, in addition to demonstrating concern, it is important to know how far your responsibility goes when an employee claims a workplace injury. For example, it is not uncommon for an employer who is involved in a traffic accident to seek workers’ compensation benefits when he or she feels the accident was work-related.

Exceptions to the exemption

The question is whether a traffic accident is related to work and when those injuries qualify a worker for workers’ compensation benefits. Generally, the law regarding workers’ compensation includes a going-and-coming exception. This means that your employee cannot file a claim for workers’ comp if he or she is injured in an accident while driving to work or on the way home from work. Depending on the circumstances, however, there may be cause for a claim if the accident or injury occurs in the company parking lot.

On the other hand, there are some times when your employee may have a valid claim for workers’ compensation if he or she is involved in a traffic accident, for example:

  • Your employee has use of a company car, particularly if the vehicle has a company logo or advertisements on it.
  • Your employee is driving between job sites.
  • The accident occurs as part of your employee’s work-related driving, such as a delivery driver making rounds, a police officer on patrol or a bus driver on duty.
  • Your employee is away on a business trip, even if the accident occurs outside his or her regular work hours.
  • You have sent your employee on a special mission, for example to pick up lunch or purchase supplies.

Special missions may also include projects not related to the job. If you send your employee to pick up your personal dry cleaning and your employee is hurt in an accident, the injuries may be covered under your workers’ compensation policy. Additionally, injuries suffered during non-work-related events such as an off-site office party or a staff morale-building day at the bowling alley generally fall under your insurer’s liability.

For more specific answers to your questions about Iowa’s workers’ compensation laws and how they affect your business, you can reach out to a legal professional.