After a car accident that occurs while you are on-the-clock, there are two types of claims an injured worker may bring: a personal injury lawsuit and a workers’ compensation claim. Workers’ compensation claims cover most job-related car accidents. However, just because workers’ compensation applies doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t look into a personal injury lawsuit. This is because an injured worker can typically recover greater compensation through a personal injury claim than they can through a workers’ compensation claim.
Workers’ Comp and Personal Injury: What’s the Difference?
Workers’ compensation is a system that allows workers who suffer a job-related injury to obtain compensation for their medical expenses and lost income while they cannot work. The New Jersey workers’ compensation system is a “no fault” program, meaning you will not need to prove anyone else caused your injuries. However, you must prove that your injuries were related to your employment.
A personal injury claim, on the other hand, is a lawsuit brought against a negligent party. In the case of a New Jersey car accident, these claims are most often pursued against another driver. However, to successfully bring a personal injury claim you must prove that the other driver was negligent—for example, they ran a stop sign or were speeding, texting, or engaging in some activity that shows they were not doing what they were supposed to at the time of the accident.
Workers’ compensation claims and personal injury claims offer different types of compensation. When you successfully bring a workers’ comp claim, you can recover for any medical bills reasonably related to the accident. You will also receive income benefits if you are unable to work or are required to work a job where you earn less money. This includes taking a lower-paying “light duty” job or working reduced hours at your typical job.
A personal injury claim allows you to recover the compensation available through a workers’ compensation claim, as well as additional forms of compensation. For example, if you successfully bring a New Jersey personal injury claim, you may receive non-economic damages, which compensate you for your pain and suffering. Because these injuries can be substantial, it is important to consider a personal injury lawsuit even if you are confident you have a solid workers’ comp claim.
Workers’ Compensation Coverage for a Car Accident
There is considerable overlap between workers’ compensation claims and personal injury claims. In fact, some injured workers can file each type of claim. However, to qualify for workers’ comp benefits an accident victim must base their claim on a work-related injury.
Certainly, many car accidents are work-related. There are, however, a few curveballs that can come up. First, only “employees” qualify for workers’ comp benefits. This means if your employer classifies you as an independent contractor you cannot obtain workers’ compensation coverage for a car accident (unless you can successfully challenge your employer’s designation).
Additionally, some car accidents you may think qualify for workers’ compensation benefits fall outside the scope of the program. For example, New Jersey courts have held that an employee’s commute is not “related” to their employment for the purposes of a workers’ compensation claim. This means, if you suffered injuries in a car accident occurring during your morning or afternoon commute, you probably won’t qualify for workers’ comp benefits. Of course, you could still file a personal injury claim against another driver, if they caused the accident.
That said, certain jobs require a worker to drive, either in their own car or a company vehicle. In either case, if you are involved in an accident when you are in the process of performing the duties of your job, you may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. Employees who drive for a living, such as truck and bus drivers, will probably not have much of a problem proving an accident was work-related. However, other workers who don’t spend a lot of time on the road may still qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. A few examples situations where a worker may qualify for workers’ comp benefits involve accidents occurring during any of the following:
- Running an errand for your employer;
- Traveling for a work-related reason (other than your commute);
- Driving another employee for a business reason;
- Making a delivery; or
- Traveling from one worksite to another.
Trust Petro Cohen To Help With Your Car Accident Claim
If you suffered injuries in a serious automobile accident and are wondering whether you can obtain workers’ compensation coverage or possibly pursue a personal injury claim, it is important you reach out to an experienced New Jersey injury law firm.
Our team of knowledgeable attorneys has decades of experience effectively handling a wide range of New Jersey workplace accident and personal injury claims. In addition to handling your workers’ comp claim, our workers’ compensation team work seamlessly with our PI team and will guide you on whether or not you may have a third-party claim, which you might not otherwise know without their experience and expertise. Working together with you, our legal team will ensure you receive the medical treatment you need and all of the compensation to which you may be entitled.
When you call to schedule a free consultation with one of our knowledgeable lawyers, we will answer all your questions, so that you can feel confident in your decision, whatever you decide to do. Your initial consultation is always free and confidential, and we will not collect any money unless we are successful at winning your case.
Throughout the process, you can rest assured knowing that we will work with you every step of the way, working tirelessly on your behalf to bring your case to a successful close. By handling all of the details of the case, it is our hope that you will be able to focus on what matters most – getting better!
To learn more and schedule your free case consultation with a Petro Cohen, P.C. workers’ comp, or injury attorney, call us at 888-675-7607. You can also contact us through our online form or via e-mail at info@PetroCohen.com