Motor vehicle and motorcycle accidents can be devastating for victims. The financial strain of an accident may be made even worse by a victim’s inability to return to work right away. Ideally, a company would be able to give an injured victim all the time they need to recover from an accident before returning to work, but reality rarely works this way. An employer’s responsibilities are largely determined based on whether the accident occurred while performing job-related duties or whether it happened outside of work. Employees may be covered under workers compensation laws, the Family Medical Leave Act or the Americans with Disabilities Act depending on the circumstances of the injury.
When an employee gets injured at work, it’s important to report the incident regardless of how minor you think it is. A copy of the official Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Employee’s Report of Injury Form can be found here. The injured employee needs to fill out this form and return it to their supervisor as soon as possible. OSHA uses these forms to help them identify and correct work-related hazards before they create more injuries or more dangerous situations. Supervisors will also have portions to fill out on the form. They will be required to list out whether safety regulations were in place before the incident, whether safety regulations were utilized and whether the supervisor has any recommendations that could prevent similar occurrences in the future.
Accurate and quick reporting has several advantages. Preventative measures can begin to be put in place as soon as an accident is fully understood. Often, reporting an incident in a timely manner will reduce everyone’s frustration and save your company money in the process. Timely reporting potentially reduces costs that can arise from state penalties, low employee morale, delayed return-to-work, unnecessary medical costs and litigation. Worker’s compensation benefits are paid out to those injured in an accident that is work-related.
Non-work-related injuries have occurred outside of the worker’s course of employment. Typically, motorcycle accidents that occurred while in transit to your place of employment won’t be covered under workers’ compensation benefits. Employers need to be aware of the exceptions to this rule. If your employee is required to bring their car or motorcycle to work for use during the day, then the commute to and from work will be covered with worker’s compensation benefits. Injuries that happen in company-provided transportation to or from work in company-operated vehicles are also covered under workers compensation benefits.
When the accident is non-work-related and the employee’s time off of work won’t be covered under workers compensation benefits, then the injured employee will need to look at other options. Employers can recommend that the employee use their sick leave for the first week, or they can utilize annual vacation leave to cover the initial time off work. Employers may consider setting up a vacation time “bank” so employees can share sick days or vacation days with an injured employee that desperately needs it. Unfortunately, it’s very unlikely that anyone will step up to pay a victim’s lost wages or health care bills immediately following a non-work-related accident, so they may feel pressured to return to work as soon as they can.
The Family Medical Leave Act
The Family Medical Leave Act was designed to help employees balance their work and family life, and it provides employees with the opportunity to take off reasonable unpaid leave for certain medical issues. When an employee is unable to work because of a health condition, employers must provide them with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. Eligible employees must have already worked with their employer for at least a year, at least 1,250 hours for the employer and worked in a location where the employer has over 50 employees. The act’s definition of a serious health condition is very broad, and it usually encompasses injuries related to an automobile accident. According to the act, a serious health condition is an illness, impairment, injury or physical or mental condition that requires continuing treatment by a healthcare provider. The incapacity to work includes not being able to perform essential job duties. Conditions causing an incapacity period of more than three days and restorative surgery after an accident are specifically covered by this act.
Americans with Disabilities Act
If an employee’s accident resulted in a life-changing disability, then this federal law protects their rights. This act prevents businesses from discriminating against a disabled individual as long as they are qualified for the job. The law requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees that are qualified for the job including leave of absence from work. Each leave period is based on the individual’s circumstances, so there is no mandatory and set leave period required by this bill.
Personal Injury Lawsuits
Most often, an employee who has been injured and isn’t covered by the above acts will need to recover their lost wages and other damages through a personal injury lawsuit. These types of lawsuits can cover losses from missed days of work, missed overtime opportunities, potential bonuses and non-monetary perks that the employee missed while they were unable to work. In the event your employee seeks compensation in civil court, supervisors or the human resources department will likely need to provide the employee with official documentation about their income and number of hours missed from work.
Motorcycle accidents come with a number of losses outside of lost wages. Victims may endure medical costs, pain and suffering, property damage, depression-related issues and an overall loss of quality of life. Compassionate employers may be able to provide some relief for accident victims through worker’s compensation laws, the Family Medical Leave Act or the Americans with Disabilities Act. If an employee is entitled under multiple laws, then employers must provide leave under the law with the greatest benefits for the employee. Otherwise, the injured employee may have to seek compensation in civil court.
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