There are several potential rules that govern the type of compensation that you will receive when you have suffered an injury in a car accident on the job. In all likelihood, you will be eligible for some type of compensation. How you get paid and how much money you get depends on who was at fault for the accident.
You Want to File a Personal Injury Claim
To be clear, your preferred course of action after you have suffered an injury in a car accident is to file a third-party claim against the responsible driver. As an accident victim, your compensation will likely be greater in a personal injury action than in a workers’ compensation claim.
The substantive differences in financial compensation include:
- You will be entitled to full lost wages in a personal injury lawsuit.
- You can recover non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, in a lawsuit.
- Your settlement check is paid upfront, as opposed to on a weekly basis.
Your attorney will first review the circumstances of the accident to see if you have a potential personal injury lawsuit against the other driver. If they were legally responsible for the accident because they were negligent, the driver will have a legal obligation to pay your damages.
You Can File a Workers’ Compensation Claim When You Are Exploring the Personal Injury Process
However, it can take many months or even years for you to get a settlement check or jury award after a car accident. If the accident happened while you were working at your job, you could file a workers’ compensation claim in the meantime.
If you received any benefits and later received a settlement check, you may have to reimburse the worker’s compensation insurance company for any money it gave you, including lost wages and medical expenses. If you were unsuccessful in your personal injury case, you can keep the workers’ compensation benefits and continue receiving them.
Workers’ Compensation Claims Are Not Dependent on Fault
Workers’ compensation claims do not depend on whether someone was at fault for the accident. North Carolina has very strict laws about contributory negligence in a car accident. If you are even 1 percent to blame, you may recover nothing for your injuries. Therefore, the circumstances under which you can receive a settlement or award are more limited.
There may be instances in which you were partially to blame for the accident and otherwise cannot get any money in a personal injury claim. Workers’ compensation will assure you of getting some sort of coverage for your injuries. You will receive payment for your medical expenses and part of your lost wages up to a certain cap for a period.
Work-Related Injuries and Workers’ Compensation Claims
Workers’ compensation claims depend on whether you suffered a work-related injury in a car. If you were on the job at the time of the car accident, your injuries are work-related because you were performing your work duties. In the workers’ compensation context, you will need to be driving the car for work-related reasons.
If you were on your way to or from work, or you were on a personal errand, it may not be considered work-related. You can expect the insurance company to dig into the circumstances of your accident to find an excuse not to pay your claim. As long as you were on the clock and you followed the procedural requirements, you should be legally entitled to benefits.
Examples of what may be considered “on the clock” include:
- Driving between job sites
- Making a delivery on behalf of the company
- A job where you need to drive as part of your job duties
- Running an errand for your job
- Driving another employee where they need to go
You should hire an attorney as soon as possible after the accident to explore your legal options. North Carolina law requires you to notify your employer in writing within 30 days of the injury. You will need to file a claim within two years of the injury, but there are very few circumstances under which you actually wait that long.
Nonetheless, it is important to get legal help immediately, so your attorney can investigate the circumstances behind the accident and gather potential evidence that can be used in a personal injury lawsuit.
It is important to remember that not only drivers are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. If you are a passenger in a car during work hours (and for purposes of your job), you will still be considered as having suffered a work-related injury.
The same rules of liability would apply if you pursued a third-party claim, except for the fact that you will be unable to sue a fellow co-worker if they were at fault for your injuries. In that case, you will still need to file a workers’ compensation claim because it will be the exclusive remedy for your injuries.
Contact a Wilmington Workers’ Compensation Attorney Today
The workers’ compensation lawyers at Horton & Mendez Injury Attorneys are experienced advocates in both workers’ compensation and personal injury claims. We will quickly analyze and investigate your claims so we can promptly advise you of your legal options.
From your perspective, the best thing you can do is contact one of our attorneys for a free initial consultation to discuss your case. You can send us a message online or call us at (910) 668-8067.
Car Accident Case FAQs
How is negligence determined in a car accident case?
You have the burden of showing that someone else (other than your employer) failed to act reasonably under the circumstances.
How much is my car accident case worth?
First, it depends on whether you have a personal injury or workers’ compensation claim. Then, your compensation depends on the extent of your specific injuries.
How much does it cost to hire an attorney?
Your attorney will receive a percentage of your financial recovery. They will not ask for a retainer or send you hourly bills.