Well, firstly we would need to look at the term ‘‘accident’’. According to the COIDA (Compensation for Occupation Injuries and Diseases Act) definition it means – ‘‘an accident arising out of and in the course of an employee’s employment and resulting in a personal injury, illness or the death of the employee’’.
In order for the worker to claim the accident, it should have occurred while the worker was on duty and should have been part of the worker’s scope of duty. This means that the accident should have occurred because the employee was on duty (at work) doing what he or she was employed to do (job description).
From the above mentioned information it is clear that an employee, who is travelling to and from work, would normally not be on duty and secondly not be doing what he or she was employed to do. If such an employee is involved in an accident, it will not be deemed to be an injury on duty.
My employee is a driver OR my employees gets transported
Sometimes employees who are drivers or who have to be transported as part of their work may be involved in motor vehicle accidents while on duty. For these employees, the rules may differ.
Employees who are drivers or who have to be transported as part of their work could be covered by the provisions of COIDA if the accident occurred ‘‘in course and scope of employment’’ and the following criteria are met:
- The vehicle was provided by the employer?
- The vehicle was provided free of charge?
- The vehicle was provided for the purposes of employment?
- The vehicle was driven by the employer himself or one of his employees?
Compensation would for example not be payable if an accident occurs with free transport which is provided by a contractor on behalf of the employer. These motor vehicle accidents could alternatively be covered by the Road Accident Fund Act.
If the standby worker is called out by the employer it should be viewed as ‘‘in course and scope of duty’’. If the worker is involved in an accident while travelling to the workplace, it would be deemed to be an injury on duty.
Even in cases where it would be expected from the standby worker to make use of private transport, it could still be deemed to be in course and scope of duty. The worker should however be able to prove that he or she travelled among the most economical route to work.
Please note that standby workers would be covered up to the point where they finish the task or job that they were called out to do. Travelling back home with private transport will normally not be covered by COIDA. On the other hand, if the worker makes use of an official company vehicle, provided for standby purposes, they will be covered while driving back to home.
Employers please note that the following questions are normally asked by the Compensation Commissioners office if an employee is involved in a motor accident and a claim is launch for compensation:
- Describe in detail how and where (street names etc.) the accident happened.
- Include detailed statements by the driver of the vehicle and eyewitnesses to the accident, describing how and where (street names, etc.) the accident occurred, as well as a diagram.
- Who is the registered owner of the vehicle?
- Name the place of departure and the destination of the vehicle at the time of the accident.
- Was the vehicle travelling on a direct route to its destination from its place of departure?
- What was the purpose of the journey?
- Was the vehicle specifically used for the purpose described in the above question? (For example, if the purpose of the journey was to deliver bread, was the vehicle assigned to the task of transporting bread?)
- What control did you exercise over the driver of the vehicle for determining the vehicle’s point and time of departure, destination and route, as well as being able to discontinue the transport at any time?
- Was transport supplied free of charge to employees to transport them to and from work?
- The registration number(s) of the vehicle(s) involved in the accident.
- To which South African Police Station was the accident reported and what was the reference number assigned to the case?
- The names and claim number numbers of the other injured employees, if any.
- In whose employment was the driver of the vehicle?
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