Workers injured on the job in a work vehicle accident are eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits. If another party was at fault for the accident, the injured worker will also have a personal injury claim against the at-fault party. These situations are legally complex. Assistance from a lawyer experienced in handling both types of claims, like our injury lawyers at Renfro & Renfro, is absolutely essential.
A motor vehicle accident is one of the many types of work-related accidents that workers’ compensation covers. If you receive injuries in a car or truck accident while you are working, workers’ comp provides the standard benefits:
To receive workers’ compensation benefits, your accident must occur during the course and scope of your employment. That means you must be performing job duties when the injury occurs. In most cases, workers’ comp does not cover an employee’s travel to and from work, though there are limited exceptions (for example, traveling between job sites and when your employer provides you with a company vehicle). Similarly, workers’ comp doesn’t cover accident injuries that occur during the work day when you are doing personal errands on a break or lunch hour.
You receive workers’ compensation benefits for injuries in an on-the-job accident regardless of who is at fault for the crash. While receiving workers’ comp benefits means you can’t sue your employer or fellow employees, even if one of them was driving when the accident happened, you may be able to recover compensation from an at-fault third party in a separate personal injury claim.
If you are injured in a work-related accident caused by a negligent third party, you may be able to pursue a personal injury claim against the at-fault party. That principle applies to all types of accidents, including motor vehicle accidents that happen during your employment.
A personal injury claim is completely separate from your workers’ compensation claim. The damages that may be recoverable in a personal injury case are substantially different from workers’ comp benefits.
Virginia law allows recovery for both economic and non-economic damages in a personal injury case. Economic damages are financial losses, such as medical expenses, lost wages, loss of future income or earning ability, and other amounts that can be calculated mathematically. Non-economic damages compensate for losses that can’t be measured easily, like pain and suffering. As such, there are damages that may be recovered in a personal injury claim that aren’t included in a workers’ comp benefits.
However, if you do have the basis for two claims, it does not mean you might get a double recovery. If you recover compensation in a personal injury case, your workers’ compensation insurance company is entitled to reimbursement for benefits they paid that are also included in your third-party payment.
The interplay between your workers’ compensation claim and third-party claim presents complex compensation and legal issues. The best approach to pursuing these two claims for work-related auto accident injuries is to have one attorney who can advise you on both. At the Richmond law firm of Renfro & Renfro, workers’ comp and personal injury are the only areas we practice. We have the experience to handle both types of claims for our clients.
While negligence is not an issue in a workers’ comp claim, it is a central issue in a personal injury claim. You must prove the at-fault party’s negligence. You also must be free of any contributory negligence in the accident. Virginia has a rule of strict contributory negligence. If your own negligence contributed in any way to the accident, you are not entitled to any recovery on a personal injury claim. The rule can have harsh consequences, but it is absolute.
Especially since contributory negligence is an issue in a third-party claim, you should never attempt to negotiate with the insurance company on your personal injury claim. In fact, you should never even talk with them. You could inadvertently make statements that harm your claim or result in completely negating your ability to recover anything. The insurance company’s only goal is to pay you as little as possible or, even better, to pay you nothing at all. You should always have your lawyer handle your third-party personal injury claim, including all contact with the at-fault party’s insurance company.
If you received injuries in an on-the-job work vehicle accident, our injury lawyers at Renfro & Renfro will help with your workers’ compensation and personal injury claims. It’s always important to reach out to a lawyer as soon as possible after any work-related accident, and that’s especially true if you might have a third-party claim.
We serve clients in the Greater Richmond Region, including in Petersburg and Dinwiddie, and throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. Our injury lawyers welcome you to contact us for a free consultation.