Every year there are approximately 10 million auto accidents in the U.S. Although many of them do not involve fatalities, it is estimated that more than 2 million people are injured as a result of them. Many of these accidents are cut and dry. If the other driver is at fault, you simply file a claim against their insurance company. But what happens when you are injured by another driver, but you are driving as a part of your job? Is their insurance company still responsible, or will your injuries be covered under your employer's workers compensation insurance? The answer may not be as clear cut as you expect.
How Do You Prove You Are On The Job When You Are Driving?
To be able to file a claim against your employer's workers compensation insurance, you must be able to show that you were working when your injuries occurred. Proving you are on the job when you are driving a delivery van, or a service vehicle during regular business hours, is relatively easy. It is not as clear cut when you are driving between clients or job sites, or if you are running job related duties, but you happen to be driving your own personal vehicle.
While the rules vary from state to state, and may even vary business to business, there are some general guidelines which outline when you will, or will not, be able to file for workers' compensation. These include if you are:
- Being paid for your time while you are on the road
- Being reimbursed for your mileage
- Making any type of work related delivery (even if you are using your personal vehicle)
- Transporting other employees
- Running work related errands
You may also be able to claim an automotive accident under workers' compensation if you travel for a living and have no fixed office location, or have multiple work locations, which you are required to travel between.
What Is The Difference In What You Can Collect?
If you file a civil suit against another driver's insurance company, you may be able to collect damages not only for your medical expenses, but in other areas as well. You may be able to collect:
- Loss wages
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish, and more
If your injuries are severe, your spouse, as well as your children may be able to sue and be compensated for how your injuries have affected them. In a civil suit, you will also be able to have your vehicle fixed, or be reimbursed for the value of your vehicle if it cannot be repaired.
If the other driver was negligent, or at fault, you may also be able to file a third party claim against the driver. To file this type of claim, you must be able to prove to the court that the driver actually caused the accident, if you file a worker's compensation claim, you will not have this burden of proof. You will even be able to collect workers' compensation if you were at fault in the accident.
The downside to collecting workers' compensation, is if you are injured bad enough that you are unable to return to work, in many states you will only receive approximately 66 2/3% of your wages, along with being reimbursed for your medical expenses. Your employer will not have to repair or replace your vehicle, nor will you, or your family be able to collect pain and suffering, or any other types of reimbursements.
Who Can Sue Who?
You can choose to collect workers' compensation, as well as file a third party claim against the other driver. This will allow you to be fully compensated for your injuries. If you win, the third party may not just have to pay you, but they may also have to reimburse your employer's insurance company for any workers' compensation benefits they have paid you.
Even if you choose not to file a third party claim, the insurance company may still file a claim against the third party to recover some of the benefits they have paid out to you. If they are successful, you may be entitled to receive compensation as a result of their lawsuit.
Trying to figure out what's in your best interest, and how to be fully compensated for any injuries you have experienced as a result of an auto accident while you were on the job, can be confusing at best. An experienced personal injury attorney will know exactly what you need to do. Contact one today and schedule a consultation.