There are thousands of Delaware workers who are required to drive an employer-owned vehicle. Every day on our roads and highways, there will be hundreds and hundreds of employer-owned vehicles being driven by employees while on the clock. With this number of employer-owned vehicles on the roads at any given time, some are bound to be involved in car accidents. Most people understand that if you are hurt at work because of a slip and fall, lifting injury, tripping and twisting your ankle or your knee, or something more serious, then workers’ compensation would cover those injuries. But what happens when you are driving in an employer-owned vehicle and the negligent driver crashes into you? Who is going to be responsible for your medical bills? Who will be responsible for your wage loss if you are seriously injured and unable to work? These are the questions that will be addressed in this piece to help injured workers figure out what they should do if they were in a work-related automobile accident.
A work-related car crash can get pretty complicated. This is one reason why you should have a lawyer who focuses their practice on representing workers’ compensation cases as well as vehicle crashes. Many insurance companies are involved with several potentially at-fault entities in a work-related car accident.
If the car crash was not your fault and it was caused by a negligent driver, then you have that driver’s auto insurance company that you have to add to the complications. Then, the vehicle that you were driving in that is owned by the employer should have a commercial automobile insurance policy. Then, because the accident happened while you were on the clock and working while driving your employer’s vehicle, the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company also has to be calculated. As you could see, there are several insurance companies that need to be dealt with and all of them might have some responsibility in paying compensation or benefits for your injuries.
With every work-related injury, your employer’s workers’ comp insurance company is responsible to pay your medical bills as well as any wage loss benefits that you suffer. But that is it. You are not entitled to receive any kind of compensation for pain and suffering, loss of life’s pleasures, or lost earning capacity going into the future, assuming that you have a permanent disability. If the vehicle crash was caused by the negligence of another driver, your workers comp insurance company will still pay for those benefits, wage loss and medical bills.
If the other driver was truly at fault in the accident, then you can go after their liability insurance coverage. This would be similar to a standard car accident personal injury case. Under those circumstances, you can seek the normal compensation such as wage loss, unpaid medical bills, compensation for pain and suffering, compensation for loss of life’s pleasures, and any other out-of-pocket expenses or damages that have not yet been covered by another insurance company. Also, if you are married, your spouse can file a claim for loss of consortium and also receive compensation.
The law, however, does not allow you to “double dip” on wage loss and medical bills. If it is a work-related auto accident, the workers’ comp insurance company has already paid those benefits. Therefore, if you receive any wage loss or medical benefits from the at-fault insurance company, you will have to pay back the workers’ compensation insurance company for those monies. You would not have to pay back any portion of the settlement or jury award that was designed to compensate you for pain and suffering though. Those money damages are yours alone.
If for some reason there was not enough insurance coverage on the at-fault driver’s policy, you could potentially go after your employer’s automobile insurance coverage, assuming that they purchased the right type of coverage. If they have uninsured driver coverage, or underinsurance coverage on the company vehicle, then it is potentially available to you assuming that the at-fault driver was either uninsured and had no insurance on their vehicle or was underinsured and did not have enough insurance to cover the extent of your injuries.
This is the type of case that you should not try to handle yourself. There are too many insurance companies involved, with too many adjusters, and too many ways to make a mistake if you try to do this yourself. Hiring the right lawyer can assure that they will know both automobile law and personal injury law, as well as know how to deal with the worker’s compensation system in Delaware. The law firm that you pick should have handled dozens and dozens of these types of cases over the years. If not, you are risking not being fully fairly compensated for your injuries.
Picking the right law firm is very important in the success of your case. You need a law firm that has the knowledge, skills, and resources to fight for your rights. The Delaware car accident lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.S. knows what it takes to successfully represent seriously injured work-related car accident victims. With offices in Millsboro and Wilmington, we serve clients in Dover, New Castle County, and Sussex County. Contact us online or call us at 302-656-5445 to schedule a free consultation.