What are my rights to payment of medical expenses if I was involved in car accident related to work?

The car was totalled but we were all fine. We were driven to an emergency room by my employer who insisted that we get checked up. I refused, as is my right, because I knew I would be unable to pay the fee and felt fine. My supervisor insisted several times until I allowed myself to be admitted out of fear of insubordination. He also insisted that the employer’s insurance would cover costs. Now the employer refuses to pay the medical fees as it was not on his land (even though it was on the hour and work related).

Asked on July 2, 2014 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Your employer is not generally responsible for your medical costs if you were injured in a car accident related to work *unless* the employer caused or contributed to the car accident; your employer is not your insurer and would only be liable to the extent of being at fault.

If you only went to the  emergency room because your employer asked you to do so  and promised to pay, you may be able to hold the employer liable under the theory of "promissory estoppel"--that is, when someone changes their position or does something to their detriment (like incurring costs) based on another party's representations or promises, and it was reasonable to believe or rely on those representations, that can sometimes be enough to hold the promise enforceable. However, if your employer will not voluntarily honor the promise, you'd have to sue your employer in court and win, which may or may not be worth doing.

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