If you’ve been injured in a car accident while on assignment for work, you may have two options for compensation and, if so, you should pursue both. The first option is workers’ compensation, a no-fault insurance program that covers virtually all employees while they’re on the job. The second option is a civil lawsuit for personal injury, which you can pursue if another party is at fault.
To qualify for workers’ compensation, you have to prove that your injury was job related. This means that you were traveling in the course of employment. For example, you may have been engaged in activity as a delivery person or a field representative. To be work related, your travel has to confer some benefit upon your employer other than simply getting you to your regular place of employment. If you can make a case for your travel being work related, then your injury is work related as well. You should file a claim with your employer.
Worker’s compensation is a no-fault system, so you can file a claim even if you were negligent in causing the accident. Workers’ comp pays for 100 percent of reasonable and necessary medical care, two-thirds of your lost wages, and other benefits, such as rehabilitation and job-retraining, if you need them.
If someone else caused the accident, you might be able to file a third-party personal injury lawsuit. The difference here is that you must prove fault by a preponderance of the evidence. So, if a driver ran a stop sign and hit your vehicle, you can sue for negligence. If a defective auto part caused the accident, you can sue the manufacturer under a theory of strict liability. However, you couldn’t sue if a coworker or your employer caused the accident. Workers’ compensation law shields them from civil liability even when they are negligent.
The advantage to a personal injury lawsuit is that you can recover 100 percent of your losses. You can collect damages that cover your medical expenses, past and future, as well as 100 percent of your lost income. You may even be able to obtain compensation for your pain and suffering, which workers’ comp does not allow. However, you are not allowed to double-dip. If you are successful in your personal injury lawsuit, the workers’ compensation insurance company will want reimbursement of your benefits.
So, why pursue both avenues if you can’t double your recovery? Workers’ compensation starts to pay almost immediately, whereas personal injury lawsuits can take months or even years to work their way through the court or to a settlement. Therefore, you always want to file for workers’ comp right away, and, if you recover for personal injury, pay the insurer back out of the damages you recover.
If you are injured in a motor vehicle accident or on the job in North Carolina, Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban is ready to help. Put a law firm with more than 200 years of combined legal experience to work for you. Call us at (888) 351-1038 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
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