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Should You File a Workers Compensation Claim or Personal Injury? Maybe Both

Automobile accidents that happened while on the job do not have to be as confusing as you would assume at first glance.

To recover for damages after an on-the-job car accident, you will have two claim options, and it's up to the injured whether to pursue either or both.

If you were injured within the scope of your employment from a car accident, you may be able to pursue two related claims for personal injury benefits and workers' compensation benefits.

An employee can file for both personal injury and workers' comp benefits simultaneously if an accident occurred while they were driving:

  • A car owned by the company
  • Within the scope of their employment
  • On company time

Some Examples That Would Fit a Dual Workers' Comp Claim and Personal Injury Claim:

  • You are a delivery driver and while on a delivery for your work, you were struck by a driver that was negligent (ex: drunk driver or distracted driver).
  • You are traveling to a meeting for work and are on company time while doing so, and on the way you are struck by another driver.
  • You are driving a company car and sustained injuries caused by an accident that may or may not be your fault.

What's the Difference Between Personal Injury Claims and Workers' Compensation Claims?

While you may be eligible for both, the main differences in pursuing these two types of claims is the burden of proof and type of compensation.

Workers' comp: Recovering benefits in a workers' compensation claim can be easier because the burden of proof is not on the victim, but instead the main interest is in protecting workers' that have been injured in any way, even if the injury is their fault. Therefore, the injured do not have to prove anyone to be negligent but instead, only have to prove the injury. Workers' compensation typically covers damages such as medical expenses, wage compensation, permanent impairment benefits, and rehabilitation.

Personal injury: Personal injury cases on the other hand typically have to prove some sort of negligence of one party that resulted in injury of the claimant. These claims also remove the limit on the scope of potential parties, allowing the claimant to pursue individuals outside of their workplace (i.e. – the other driver).

Personal injury claims, like workers' compensation, compensate for medical expenses, lost wages, and loss of future earning capacity. The main difference regarding compensation between the claims is that personal injury also factors in the pain and suffering resulting from the injury. Usually, with these components factored in, the expected demand would be higher with a PIP claim.

Receiving Payment From Both Claims

Since the PIP can offer more coverage through types of compensation, employees seeking both of these benefits can expect payment primarily from personal injury protection benefits. PIP is the first to pay out in the instance of a car accident, and the burden of leftover damages that PIP cannot cover are be passed onto the workers' compensation benefits.

Before any of the payments can be disbursed, both insurance carriers need to be notified in a proper manner. These laws both require specific means of notification, and your claim may be weakened or voided without it.

Lost Wages – Getting the Most for Your Missed Time 

As mentioned before, both of these benefits cover lost wages – but only to an extent. PIP benefits pay 60% of the lost wages not already covered by workers' compensation, but primarily workers' compensation benefits should pick up the majority.
For example, consider an employee that was injured in a car accident while working and loses $10,000 in wages during recovery. Workers' compensation benefits will cover between 66.66% and 80% of lost wages, so suppose the employee receives $7,000.
Since there is a remaining difference of $3,000, PIP is eligible to cover 60% of that amount. By pursuing PIP benefits, the employee may be eligible to receive up to $1,800 more in lost wages than they would with only workers compensation claims.

Other stipulations related to wage compensation through PIP are tied into workers' compensation benefits already received and Medicaid benefits. Understanding the procedures, restrictions, and governing rules, therefore, is vital to claiming all the compensation you are owed.

Is It Time For an Attorney?

Pursuing claims like these can become time-consuming, require devoted attention, and a level of dedication to detail to stay within the bounds of the law. The attorneys at the Coye Law Firm understand the confusing and somewhat binding interactions between PIP and workers’ compensation well. In order for you to focus on recovery and getting back to the work you love, you may want to seek legal representation to ensure your receive all compensation you are owed.