Workplace injuries can happen in any industry. For many American workers, traveling between work sites is all part of the job. From over-the-road truckers to attorneys, all kinds of employees run the risk of an on the job auto accident. When one occurs, how do you know where to turn for recovery? Does Workers Compensation or your no-fault auto insurance pay the bills?
One of the biggest challenges in a personal injury lawsuit is proving who is at fault. Problems in proving liability can hold up your recovery for months, and even years, as the attorneys battle in court.
Both Michigan's Workers' Compensation and auto insurance laws create "no-fault" systems that allow an injured person to recover for injuries without having to show who is at fault. These systems are intended to speed up the process and allow the injured party to get paid faster.
The Worker's Disability Compensation Act entitles a person to compensation from his or her employer for injuries suffered on the job. The Michigan No-Fault Insurance Act provides for compensation from an insurance company of any injury suffered as the result of the use of an automobile. So when your job includes the use of a motor vehicle, there is a chance that both Workers Compensation and No-Fault Insurance could become involved.
After a car crash, you are entitled to no-fault insurance benefits under your own insurance policy for all of your medical expenses including attendant care costs, as well as three years of lost wages (at 85% of your salary) and replacement services (up to $20 per day). These benefits apply as long as the injury is the result of the use of a motor vehicle, including the loading and unloading of a car or truck, and using equipment mounted to the vehicle.
Workers Compensation applies to injuries "arising out of and in the course of employment." While this does not include driving to and from a person's primary place of employment, it can apply to transportation that happens on the job, including:
When a person is injured on the job, he or she is entitled to payment of reasonable medical treatment, 85% of his or her gross weekly wage, and set rates of compensation based on the nature of the disability.
An on-the-job auto accident can trigger benefits from both Workers Compensation and a person's no-fault insurance. But Michigan law prohibits "double-recovery" - being paid twice for the same injury. An injured person should still file both an Workers Compensation claim and an auto insurance claim. Where both insurances would pay for the same expense (like a medical bill or time off work), the Workers Compensation claim pays out first, and the no-fault claim makes up the difference.
In the most serious auto accidents, a person's no-fault benefits won't be enough to compensate him or her for all the injuries sustained. There may be long-term disability, pain and suffering, and loss of support claims that the person can bring against the at-fault driver directly.
Some of these damages are also paid for under a Workers Compensation claim. If a person decides to file a Third Party lawsuit after an on-the-job auto accident, the employer's Workers Compensation insurance company may be entitled to reimbursement for any of those benefits. Once again, this is designed to prevent double-recovery. When you receive a payout on your lawsuit, your personal injury attorney will handle the actual reimbursement, but you should be aware that the money you will receive may be lower than the settlement or jury award you receive.
All these technical details can be confusing. Here's an example of what an on-the-job auto accident claim might look like.
Andre drove a local delivery truck for his employer, a small manufacturing company. While en route to a delivery, he was struck by a car that ran a red light. Andre was seriously injured and was out of work for several years. Andre's personal injury attorney helped him file claims with his employer's workers compensation and with the appropriate no-fault insurance companies.
The Workers Compensation claim paid first, covering Andre's reasonable medical expenses, 80% of his net wages, and a flat rate for his temporary disability. Next, Andre's no-fault auto insurance through the company will pay any eligible lost wages over and above the Workers Compensation benefits as well as replacement services and attendant care costs.
Because of the severity of his injuries, Andre decided to sue the driver of the car that hit him. He recovered a jury verdict that included an award for his long term disability, pain and suffering, and other damages. He will be required to reimburse the Workers Compensation insurance for the money he already received for his disability, and for lost wages paid for the three years covered by his no-fault insurance. The rest of the award comes to him to compensate him for his injuries.
If you have been injured in an on-the-job auto accident, you need a personal injury attorney who understands how all the various systems work together. At Sachs Waldman, we have extensive experience helping the victims of auto accidents recover benefits from Workers Compensation and no-fault insurance providers. We know what to do to make sure you are covered after a car crash. Contact our Detroit personal injury law office at 1-800-638-6722.