If you have recently been injured in an automobile accident that was in any way work-related, you may have a variety of questions about your legal options, the insurance claims process, and liability generally. It is important that you speak with an attorney about your unique situation as soon as you can. Why? Because although it is possible to communicate about general “rules of thumb” and regulations concerning work-related auto accidents, no two crashes ever unfold in exactly the same way. And, as experienced workers’ compensation lawyers – including those who practice at Cohen & Cohen – can confirm, the nuances of any particular crash may affect the legal options available to the injury victims affected by the collision.
Generally speaking, if your crash occurred while you were engaging in work-related activities and you are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, you are likely entitled to a workers’ compensation award at this time. This is probably true even if the crash was your fault because workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. With that said, if you instigated a road rage incident, were trying to hurt yourself, or were drunk or high at the time of the crash, you’ll be barred from seeking benefits.
Most full-time and part-time employees are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. As are independent contractors who have been improperly classified and who function as de-facto employees. Regardless of how you are classified, if you are eligible for workers’ comp benefits, it is important to act quickly. Workers’ compensation claims are among the most-time sensitive matters handled by the entire U.S. legal system. You may be barred from seeking compensation if you do not act within 30 days of the date of your injurious crash.
Personal Injury Claims
If you are eligible for workers’ comp benefits, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit as well. However, you won’t be able to name your employer as a defendant in that suit because your employer has limited liability protection for work-related injuries due to the ways in which the workers’ compensation system works.
If you are either not eligible for workers’ comp benefits or you are not naming your employer as a defendant in a personal injury suit and you are eligible for workers’ comp benefits, you can file a personal injury claim against others involved in the accident. To succeed, you’ll need to prove that they owed you a duty of care under the law, breached that duty by engaging in negligent, reckless, or intentionally harmful conduct, and directly caused your injuries as a result of that conduct.