Under Colorado workers’ compensation law, workers are entitled to collect benefits for workplace injuries as a result of accidents that occur on the job, but the question often arises — was the victim actually at work when the accident occurred?
This may be a question in the recent case of a truck driver who was involved in a fatal motor vehicle accident. Tragically, the accident occurred while was transporting a “float” of veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan during a Veteran’s Day Parade.
While on the parade route, the truck/float was required to pass over an active railroad crossing. However, just prior to the truck entering the crossing, the warning bells and flashing lights signaled an approaching train. The guardrails were not completely lowered, however, when the train crashed into the truck, crushing the parade float and resulting in the deaths of four wounded war veterans, and injuries to 16 other victims.
It is unclear that any of those involved in the tragedy were taking part of the parade in connection with their employment, although that is quite possible. Even if it is not the case in this accident, injured people frequently overlook the fact that car and truck accidents occurring on the job are covered by workers’ compensation law.
According to the National Transportation Safety Board, an oilfield services company was the owner of the truck. Apparently, the driver of the truck is an employee of that company.
If any of the 16 victims injured while on the job, then the injured people may have valid claims for workers’ compensation benefits. Workers’ compensation laws are complex, and the question of what constitutes work-related activity is often in dispute in such cases. In this case, for example, if the driver was asked and paid to take part in the parade by his employer in order to generate positive publicity, it could be argued he was on the job when the accident occurred.
It may require the assistance of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney in order for any of the injured, or the survivors of those killed, to prove they or their loved ones were acting in a workplace capacity. If they were, it would be an essential part of helping them obtain the injury or death benefits they deserve.
Source: USA Today, “Parade where vets killed used route for past 3 years,” Nov. 18, 2012