Apr 2024

Work-Related Transportation Accidents & Workplace Fatalities

Delivery driver driving van with parcels on seat

We often hear how distracted driving and other negligent behaviors lead to car accidents. In 2022, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported 3,308 fatalities from traffic crashes involving distracted drivers in the United States. But these accidents don’t just affect commuters and travelers. Work-related transportation accidents are a common cause of workplace fatalities and workers’ comp claims.

This includes three main categories of distracted driving:

  • Manual distractions occur when the driver takes one or both hands off the steering wheel to perform another task. Examples include handling a cell phone, adjusting the radio or GPS device, eating, or self-grooming.
  • Visual distractions involve the driver taking their eyes off the road. This could happen while looking at a smartphone, reading a billboard, searching for items in the car, or even looking at passengers.
  • Cognitive distractions occur when the driver’s mind is not focused on driving. This could be due to talking to other passengers, daydreaming, or being preoccupied with personal, family, or work-related issues.

How common are work-related transportation accidents?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, vehicle accidents are the primary cause of work-related fatalities in the United States. They account for nearly 40% of such deaths each year. These typically include commercial vehicle crashes, pedestrian accidents in work zones, public transportation accidents, and forklift accidents.

Distracted driving is a significant contributor to road fatalities, including those related to work. Other common causes of workplace transportation accidents include:

  • Fatigue and drowsy driving.
  • Speeding and aggressive driving.
  • Lack of driver training.
  • Poor vehicle maintenance.
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Safety advocates take action

In response to these alarming statistics, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Safety Council are organizing a panel discussion titled “Roadway Safety is Workplace Safety: The Need to Eliminate Distracted Driving.”

Since their inception, both the NSC and OSHA have collaborated with employers to enhance worker safety, including the prevention of work-related transportation accidents. That includes:

  • Setting and enforcing safety standards that include regulations for vehicle operation and maintenance.
  • Training programs and resources aimed at educating workers and employers about safe driving practices and the risks associated with workplace transportation.
  • Developing and implementing workplace safety programs that include seat belt policies, fatigue management, and distracted driving policies.

Injured in a vehicle accident while on the job?

If you’re injured in a vehicle accident while on the job, you have the right to file a workers’ compensation claim. Workers’ compensation can cover your medical expenses, lost wages, rehabilitation services, and long-term disability, depending on the nature of your work-related injuries. Unlike a personal injury claim, workers’ comp is a no-fault system, so you don’t have to prove negligence. You only have to prove that your injury was work-related and you’re classified as an employee.

If the transportation accident was caused by someone outside your workplace, you may have grounds for a third-party work injury claim. For example, if you were making a delivery or working along the side of the road and a distracted driver hit you, you may be able to sue that driver’s insurance company. Unlike workers’ compensation, a third-party claim would compensate you for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, reduced quality of life, and loss of consortium.

To see how we can help with your potential claim, contact an attorney at the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl. We can answer any questions you have and help you explore your options further during a free consultation. We proudly serve injured workers in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

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