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Death on the job- does it affect WC Mod if not work-related?

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  • Death on the job- does it affect WC Mod if not work-related?

    A few strange questions....

    If an employee dies in a motor vehicle accident, in his own vehicle, does this get reported to the WC carrier? If he is "on the clock" when this happens but he's making a trip for personal, not work-related reasons, is it still a WC case? If it had nothing to do with the workplace or work duties, will it make the employer's experience Mod (and therefore the premium) go up?

    We have had employees put in WC claims when they were injured in motor vehicle accidents in their own vehicles, but it was because they were en route from one work-related task to another. But I've never encountered a situation where the employee was in an accident and died instantly, until now.

    We have no way of knowing whether this employee was driving for a work-related reason or not. If we as the employer did not report the death to the WC carrier, how else would they have found out?

    I know if someone dies on the job, in say a factory, or from a fall, or something related to the safety of the workplace, it is categorized as a WC incident. But a case like this has nothing to do with the safety of the workplace, correct? So I'm thinking it should not affect our Mod. Am I wrong?

    I'm very saddened about the loss of an employee, but I'm also very concerned about our WC costs being affected by something beyond our control.

  • #2
    I'm not clear whether you have reason to think this person was on a work errand or not at the time of the accident. If you have any reason to think it may have been work related, submit it to the carrier and let them make the determination.

    The the employee was running to the store to pick up a few items for dinner while on break or going to lunch on their own, it would not be WC. If they were running to the store to pick up office supplies or to attend an off site working lunch, chances are WC applies.

    If you have no idea why this person was in their car,you are going to need to do some investigating. Surely this employee told someone where they were headed or why on the way out the door.

    I'm sorry to hear this happened. It is never easy to lose an employee, WC aside.
    I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.

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    • #3
      I'll PM you as I don't want to post too many details.

      We investigated as much as possible, and he was not assigned to do anything work related at that time. His job was such that he "could" be considered "working" at any point in a 24 hour period.

      Yes, this is very sad, and I'm stuck between grieving and worrying about the company.
      Last edited by TSCompliance; 10-19-2011, 12:57 PM.

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      • #4
        I think the safest thing to do is to report it to your comp carrier and let them investigate. The law on compensability of an employee who is traveling varies a great deal from state to state, and with no more facts than you have posted, it is not possible to guesstimate compensability.

        For instance, in NC, an employee who is driving to the store down the street from his work site, to get a soda on his break, is probably in the course and scope of his job should he be injured in an accident, and would be covered. But it would depend on the particular facts of the case.

        I am sorry about your loss. One of my long-time clients passed away a couple weeks ago, and all you can do is grieve and try to offer what you can to the family. Nothing easy about it.
        Last edited by complwyr; 10-19-2011, 01:54 PM.
        Bob Bollinger, Attorney
        Board Certified Specialist in NC Workers' Compensation Law
        Charlotte, NC

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