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Rise in Workers’ Compensation Claims from Car Accidents Has Insurers Concerned

A recent report by the National Council on Compensation Insurance, a workers’ compensation rating and data collection bureau, shows that while total workers’ compensation claims are declining, claims for injuries in motor vehicle accidents have risen over the past five years.  Jim Davis, the report’s author, and NCCI director, remarked, “[The crashes] often involve very serious injuries that can take their toll on injured workers and their families.”

 As reported in a recent Insurance Journal article, the NCCI found that “from 2011 to 2016 the frequency of all claims declined by 17.6 percent, while the frequency of motor vehicle accident claims increased by five percent.” During that period, motor vehicle accidents were the cause of more than 40 percent of fatal workers’ compensation claims.

The bad news for insurers, according to NCCI, is that “motor vehicle accident claims cost 80 percent to 100 percent more than the average [workers’ compensation] claim because they involve severe injuries.” Thus, “over a five-year period, motor vehicle claims accounted for 28 percent of workers’ compensation claims above $500,000, versus just five percent of all claims.”

The good news for insurers, which the article does not mention, is that companies can recover their workers’ compensation payouts if a negligent third party was responsible for the accident. For example, if a delivery truck driver is injured when another vehicle runs a red light and crashes into the truck, the driver can file a workers’ comp claim, but also has the right to file a personal injury lawsuit. If the driver successfully settles or wins the lawsuit, he must repay workers’ comp out of the recovered damages. Nevertheless, a worker who has grounds for a third party lawsuit can potentially recover much more, because damages can include full wage replacement and compensation for pain and suffering.

Another point to understand is that workers can only recover workers’ comp benefits for a vehicle accident that is work-related. That means the accident must arise out of work and occur in the course of work. Employees who drive as part of their job are generally covered. Commuters are generally not covered, unless there is an exception, such as running an errand specifically for their employer’s benefit or traveling from their usual place of work to an off-site workplace.

Injured workers should always consult an experienced attorney who can investigate their claim and inform them of their rights to recover from all available sources.

Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban represents clients in auto accident cases throughout the Carolinas and Virginia. Call us at (888) 351-1038 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

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