When the “Other Driver” is a Home Health Care Worker

Being a health care worker is an important job, one in high demand as our country’s population ages. That need is partly why 9 of the top 10 best jobs for 2016 are in the health care field. Home health care, in particular, is booming. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that by 2020, the number of home health care workers will grow by more than 1.3 million — an increase of 70 percent (for comparison, the U.S. job market growth rate as a whole is 14 percent). Home health care covers a wide range of comprehensive services for patients of all ages and medical conditions. There are a variety of home health care organizations that typically provide assistance, including Medicare certified home health care agencies, Visiting Nurse Agencies (VNAs), hospices, area agencies on aging, homemaker agencies, and private duty nursing agencies. Our own Pikeville Medical Center (PMC) has a home health unit dedicated to medically-directed nursing and support care. The unit offers skilled nursing care, medical social services, home health aide services, homemaker services, respite care, and physical, occupational, and speech therapy to patients in their own environment. Driving from patient to patient means that these workers spend a lot of time on the road, increasing the risk for motor vehicle–related hazards. To raise awareness, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has published a fact sheet reminding home health care workers of the dangers of distracted driving, intoxicated driving, aggressive driving, drowsy driving, operating a car without a seatbelt, and poorly maintained vehicles. While some workers use their own cars, others use employer-provided vehicles. In fact, PMC has its own fleet of vehicles set aside for certain staff functions. In the event that a home health care worker causes a car accident, the employer may also be liable. Employer negligence may arise from negligent hiring of the worker, negligent supervision of the worker, or vicariously if the accident occurred while the worker was performing his or her duties. If the condition of a company-owned vehicle was partly to blame, the employer may be held responsible for failure to maintain the vehicle in a safe condition. Consulting with a lawyer is recommended whenever an accident potentially involves employer liability. If you are trying to put your life back together after a motor vehicle accident caused by a home health care worker, or, if you have more questions about this topic, trust your case to the Pikeville, KY-based Johnson Law Firm. We are ready to provide you with a free and confidential initial consultation. Contact us by calling 606-437-4488 or filling out our online form.

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