17 Aug 2021,

What You Need To Know About Workers’ Compensation And Car Accidents

We get this question a lot: “What happens if I am in a car accident, and I was working for my employer at the time?” The short answer is that you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits and personal injury damages. 

Most motor vehicle collisions result in injuries and most also mean filing an insurance claim and/or a personal injury lawsuit. If you were driving for work at the time of the crash, your attorney determines if a claim can be filed against the other driver’s insurance or the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. There are instances where a personal injury claim can be brought against both. The circumstances of the crash dictate what route your Levinson Law Group car accident lawyer takes.

Driving for Work

If you were injured in a collision, you may apply for workers’ compensation if you were driving as a part of your job. However, the trip from and to work is typically not considered to be related to work. There are some situations where you may be driving to a distant work location and not your usual place of employment. In that situation, any injuries sustained in a crash may be covered. 

Whether or not driving is work-related is a controversial subject. This is due, in part, to the various situations workers may find themselves in during a workday. An example would be a worker driving to pick up lunch and is involved in a crash. Workers’ compensation may not cover them. But, if the worker is on an errand for the employer during lunch hour, any injuries sustained in a crash are likely to be covered. In California, if you are carrying out a work-related task and injured while in a company vehicle, you are entitled to workers’ compensation coverage. 

In California, a car accident survivor can recover damages for injuries sustained due to another person’s negligence. Damages are reduced in proportion to the fault of the injured individual. Put another way; if an injured car accident survivor was 45 percent at fault for the accident, their damage award would be reduced by 45 percent.

The Workers’ Compensation System is No-Fault

If a worker is injured in the workplace and was driving at work, that individual is entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits without proving that anyone else was at fault. Even if the worker may have been wholly or partially at fault for the accident, the worker’s compensation benefits are not reduced.

Damages awarded in the workers’ compensation system are typically less than damages in a civil lawsuit. Additionally, if the worker filed a civil lawsuit, a jury could award damages for things such as pain and suffering, lost wages, and medical costs. If the injury is life-altering and permanent, a jury or judge may also award damages to the plaintiff.

In the workers’ compensation system, injured workers are not compensated for pain and suffering, and the benefits that are awarded may not cover the emotional stress arising from an injury. However, benefits may take care of an emotional disorder linked directly to the accident.

Differences Between Workers’ Compensation Benefits & a Civil Lawsuit

Other differences exist between workers’ compensation benefits awarded after a workplace accident and filing a personal injury claim. They include:

  • Medical care – The workers’ compensation system mandates that the employer provides and pays for medical treatment upfront.
  • Wages lost – Workers’ compensation does not pay out 100 percent of injured worker’s lost wages. However, temporary disability benefits (TDB) partially replace wages. Civil lawsuits do not pay for damages unless a case settles or goes to trial.
  • Permanent disability – Workers’ compensation pays benefits based on the injured worker’s permanent impairment, and benefits are paid based on a formula. If a civil case goes to trial, no set formulas or standards guide an award for damages for permanent disability. Other workers’ compensation benefits are available for an injured worker, including funds for job retraining and death benefits. 
  • Claims combined – If the accident you were in was the result of another driver’s negligence, as an injured worker, you can bring a workers’ compensation claim and a civil claim. The injured worker would have access to workers’ compensation benefits and seek additional damages.

It is difficult to process both kinds of cases simultaneously, as workers’ compensation can file a lien against any settlements or civil damages awarded to recover costs for the workers’ compensation benefits paid out. Additionally, if a civil case is settled before all workers’ compensation benefits are paid, workers’ compensation can offset future benefits against the settlement amount. This would mean future benefits may be eliminated or reduced. 

Contact The Levinson Law Group About Your Work Car Accident Today

If you or a loved one were involved in a car accident at work, reach out to The Levinson Law Group attorneys right away. At The Levinson Law Group, our dedicated team of car accident lawyers is here to help. 

If you have questions about the recovery process, we can answer them. If you are not sure you want to bring a case against the other driver, we will not pressure you. We only want to make sure that you are informed and make the best decision for yourself and your family. When you decide to work with The Levinson Law Group, you can rest assured that you will have someone in your corner throughout the entire process. 

To learn more about your options, call The Levinson Law Group at 760-827-1700. We accept cases on a contingent fee. That means that if there is no recovery in your case, you pay no fee. And in most cases, we even advance the costs.