A Traffic Accident that is also a Work Accident (Legal Information)
When is a traffic accident considered a work accident as well? Israeli law poses an extremely broad definition of a work accident, and the definition is likely to apply to a broad spectrum of incidents, including traffic accidents. The test used to decide this question – whether a traffic accident suffered by employees is also a work accident – evaluates whether the accident occurred on the employee’s daily work route. This is a question that is not easily determined, and in many cases it is likely to be brought to Labor Court for a decision. In this article, Joshua Pex, partner in our firm and specialist in labor law, explains the issue.
Employees who suffer a traffic accident do not always realize that it could be considered a work accident
Many traffic accidents occur around working hours. There are cases of accidents while bringing children to preschool or school on the way to work, as well as while picking up children after work. Traffic accidents can also occur during a break from work, or during a work trip. In all these cases, along with many others, the law should allow the traffic accident to be recognized as a work accident. Employees do not always make the connection between their work framework and a traffic accident they suffered. Accordingly, employees do not always claim compensation in such cases. It is important for employees to be aware of their rights in this context and to claim these rights if needed. Below we describe the relevant law in detail and present examples of cases in which injuries due to a traffic accident were recognized as stemming from a work accident.
What does the law state about recognizing a traffic accident as a work accident?
Work accidents are defined broadly in Israeli law. The definition of a work accident in the law is: “An accident that occurred during his work and due to his work at his employer’s workplace or on behalf of the employer, and for someone self-employed – while he was occupied with his vocation and due to his occupation with his vocation.” This definition can certainly be applied to traffic accidents, whether they occurred during work time, or whether they occurred outside the work place or even outside of working hours. Labor courts’ interpretation of a work accident, in many cases, matches the above broad definition, as we will illustrate below.
A traffic accident during a work-related trip
In many cases, a traffic accident that occurred during a trip considered part of the work day is recognized as a work accident. An example is the Be’ersheva Labor Court’s ruling in 2013. The ruling concerned a company director who was travelling on his motorcycle from a work meeting in Tel Aviv to the company’s factory under his ownership, located in Sde Uziyahu, and suffered a traffic accident in which his leg was injured. The meeting was held with the company director’s brother, who served as the firm’s attorney, and took place in a café. The National Insurance Institute rejected the claim to recognize the motorcycle accident as a work accident. One of the main explanations for rejecting the claim was that the meeting in Tel Aviv did not appear to be a work meeting. The Labor Court ruled that in the circumstances of the case, the impression was received that it was a business meeting, and not a social or family meeting. Accordingly, the court overturned the National Insurance Institute’s decision and ruled that the incident be considered a work accident.
A traffic accident during a break from work
In 2014 the Tel Aviv Labor Court ruled that an incident in which an employee was run over while on a break from work should be recognized as a work accident. This ruling dealt with a bus driver who transported schoolchildren to an outing at a Luna Park in Tel Aviv. While the pupils were at the Luna Park, the driver parked the bus in the parking lot. He went to eat in a restaurant adjacent to the parking lot and then went to visit his parents, who also lived in the area. While the driver was walking back to the bus, he was struck by another bus that was passing by. The driver suffered severe bodily damage from this accident. The Labor Court ruled that despite the visit to the restaurant and the family visit, the incident should be viewed as part of the driver’s workday. Accordingly, the driver was recognized as having suffered a work accident.
A traffic accident while transporting children to preschool or school
Many employees bring their children to preschool or school on their way to work, or pick them up at the end of the workday. It is important to know that many cases of traffic accidents occurring during these trips are considered work accidents. An example is a ruling of the Tel Aviv District Labor Court in 2010 (no. 6024-09). This case deals with a mother who brought her daughter to preschool and was later injured in a traffic accident while on her way to work. The Labor Court recognized that the trip was for the purpose of getting the employee to work, and accordingly recognized it as a work accident.
How is compensation given in practice for a traffic accident that constitutes a work accident?
It is important to know that these are cases in which one can generally sue both the automobile insurance company and the National Insurance Institute or a private insurance company (if there is private disability insurance coverage). The claim against the automobile insurance company is filed under the Compensation for Victims of Traffic Accidents Law, and it can be filed within 7 years of the date of the accident. Recognition of the accident as a work accident is done according to several different tracks, for which the statue of limitations is shorter. The statute of limitations for claims filed with the National Insurance Institute is generally up to one year from the date of the incident. Recognition of the incident as a work accident enables the claimant to receive damages in case of temporary damage, or disability compensation at a rate that depends on the circumstances of the incident. We have explained this in another article published on our site concerning recognition of work-related injuries by the National Insurance Institute. The statute of limitations for claims against a personal insurance policy is up to 3 years from the date of the insurance event. To clarify the right track for handling a claim and actualizing your rights in a specific case, it is advisable to seek the assistance of an attorney specializing in labor and insurance law.
A traffic accident that is also a work accident – contact our labor and insurance law specialists
Above we explained the ways that incidents of traffic accidents can be recognized as work accidents. For any additional questions or assistance on this issue, an attorney from our office who specializes in labor and insurance law will be happy to be at your service. Our office has extensive experience in representing employees in proceedings to actualize their rights following a traffic accident, against insurance companies, the National Insurance Institute, and the labor courts. You can contact us at the telephone numbers and email address below to arrange a consultation in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv with an attorney from our office who specializes in labor and insurance law.