Charleston, SC (WorkersCompensation.com) – Auto accidents on the job continue to be one of the major causes of fatal workers’ compensation claims, studies show.
But providing driving policies to employees may be one key to decreasing those accidents, one attorney says.
According to the National Council on Compensation Insurance, from 2011 to 2016, claims for workers’ compensation claims declined by 17.6 percent, but workers’ compensation claims for motor vehicle accidents increased by five percent. Additionally, of fatal workers’ compensation claims, 41 percent were the result of motor vehicle accidents.
Alan Kennington, Attorney and Vice President at Sink Law, a South Carolina-based law firm, said our dependence on cars is part of the reason.
“I think it’s a lot of in the sense as we become more mobile as a society, we become more accident prone,” Kennington says. “Most of the accidents are in the middle of the day. We’re seeing accidents more in the city where there are high traffic patterns. As our cities have expanded, I don’t think we have the infrastructure to keep up with it.”
NCCI’s study found that auto accidents in general rose, as well. Over the same five years, NCCI found that accidents increased at a similar rate, and with a similar increase in the number of traffic fatalities.
“While workers’ compensation claims have been declining, motor vehicle accidents have been on the rise over the last five years,” Jim Davis, NCCI director and actuary said. “These often involve very serious injuries that can take their toll on injured workers and their families.”
Motor vehicle accident claims cost 80 to 100 percent more than the average claim, the report says, because they can involve severe injuries.
The study noted that the increase in auto accidents also coincided with the increase in smartphone usage.
According to the National Safety Council, 27 percent of crashes involve drivers talking and texting on their phones. The report also says that driver cell phone use is likely highly under-reported and substantially underestimated.
Kennington said providing employees with policies concerning phone use while driving can help to decrease accident rates.
To read more on auto accidents and work comp, check out WorkersCompensation.com’s Experts View Peter Rousmaniere’s coverage here.