Car Accidents on the Job: Personal Injury or Workers’ Compensation?
We often talk about workers’ compensation and car accidents separately, because an entirely different system of medical treatment, benefits, payments, and damages are available in both. They are governed by separate laws and statutes. But what happens when they intersect—specifically, what happens when you are involved in a car accident on the job?
Car Accidents While Working
The scenario is not unique or far-fetched; many jobs require workers to drive as part of their work duties. Although workers’ compensation generally will not cover car accidents that occur while the worker is going to or from work, it certainly will cover car accidents that happen while the employee is on the clock, and performing job duties while driving.
The Worker’s Choice
The good news is that in cases where a worker is involved in a car accident performing his or job duties, the worker generally has a choice between whether to go through workers’ compensation, or to go through traditional personal injury channels for recovery. Which to use is something that an attorney should help you decide, because both systems have benefits and drawbacks.
If you are in a car accident, your personal injury protection (PIP) will provide you some relief, but the relief is limited—usually, $10,000 combined (for both medical expenses and lost wages), minus any deductible you may have. That is a limited amount—but generally, similar to the benefits that could be obtained through a workers’ compensation claim when it comes to wages.
In fact, PIP only pays 60% of your lost wages. Workers’ compensation is similar, paying about 66% of your weekly wages. However, workers’ compensation does not have the $10,000 maximum cap on wages the way your PIP insurance likely does (depending on your policy).
Personal Injury and Liability Policies
One benefit of a personal injury claim is that if another driver is responsible, you also would have the right to sue that driver for personal injury damages under the driver’s liability policy, which include damages that workers’ compensation will not pay, such as pain and suffering or loss of the quality and enjoyment of life.
You can sue the other driver for recovery under his or her liability policy and still, if you choose to do so, go through workers’ compensation to help you with some of your medical expenses. However, your workers’ compensation carrier will assert a lien—that means that it will expect to be paid back some or all of what it paid for your treatment, should you recover a settlement or jury verdict against the negligent driver.
One big benefit of a personal injury claim through PIP is that unlike in workers’ compensation, you will be able to choose your own doctors. That means that you will have doctors who are not paid for, and hired by, the insurance company.
The Tampa workers’ compensation attorneys at Barbas, Nuñez, Sanders, Butler & Hovsepian can help you decide on your best options if you are injured while on the job or at work. Call us today to discuss obtaining damages after any accident. Schedule a consultation today.