Workers Compensation and car accidents: What you need to know

If you are injured in a car accident while performing your job duties, you may be entitled to workers compensation benefits. However, you may also have the option to pursue a personal injury claim against the driver who caused the accident. This can be a complex and confusing process, especially if you are not familiar with Pennsylvania’s laws and regulations regarding car insurance and liability. In this blog post, we will explain some of the key aspects of workers compensation and car accidents in Pennsylvania, and how a workers compensation lawyer can help you protect your rights and obtain the compensation you deserve.

Car accidents are one of the most common causes of work-related injuries in Pennsylvania. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, there were 125,267 reportable traffic crashes in 2019, resulting in 76,243 injuries and 1,059 fatalities. Of these crashes, 10,059 involved a driver who was working at the time of the accident.

Work-related car accidents can have serious and lasting consequences for the injured workers and their families. They can cause physical pain, emotional distress, medical expenses, lost wages, reduced earning capacity, and permanent disability. In some cases, they can even result in death.

If you are injured in a work-related car accident, you may be wondering what your options are for obtaining compensation. The answer depends on several factors, such as the type of car insurance you have, the severity of your injuries, and the degree of fault of the other driver. In this blog post, we will discuss the following topics:

  • Pennsylvania’s Choice no-fault insurance system
  • Pennsylvania’s Serious Injury Threshold
  • Pennsylvania’s shared fault system
  • How a workers compensation lawyer can help

Pennsylvania’s Choice No-Fault Insurance System

Pennsylvania is one of the few states that has a choice of no-fault insurance system. This means that drivers can choose between two types of car insurance coverage: limited tort or full tort. 

Limited tort coverage is the cheaper option, but it also limits your right to sue for damages after a car accident. If you have limited tort coverage, you can only sue the at-fault driver for economic damages, such as medical bills and lost wages. You cannot sue for non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, unless you meet certain exceptions, such as suffering a serious injury, being hit by a drunk driver, or being a pedestrian or a passenger in a commercial vehicle. 

Full tort coverage is the more expensive option, but it also preserves your right to sue for damages after a car accident. If you have full tort coverage, you can sue the at-fault driver for both economic and non-economic damages, regardless of the severity of your injuries or the circumstances of the accident. 

The type of car insurance coverage you have can affect your ability to pursue a personal injury claim after a work-related car accident. If you have limited tort coverage, you may be restricted to seeking workers compensation benefits, which only cover a portion of your losses. If you have full tort coverage, you may be able to seek additional compensation from the at-fault driver, which can help you cover the full extent of your damages.

The choice of car insurance coverage is not always clear-cut, however. There are some situations where you may be able to sue for damages even if you have limited tort coverage, or where you may be prevented from suing for damages even if you have full tort coverage. For example, if you are driving a company-owned vehicle, or if you are covered by your employer’s car insurance policy, you may be bound by the terms of that policy, regardless of your personal preference. 

Therefore, it is important to consult with a workers compensation lawyer who can review your car insurance policy and advise you on the best course of action for your case.

Pennsylvania’s Serious Injury Threshold

Another factor that can affect your ability to pursue a personal injury claim after a work-related car accident is the seriousness of your injuries. Pennsylvania law defines a serious injury as “a personal injury resulting in death, serious impairment of body function or permanent serious disfigurement.” 

If you suffer a serious injury in a car accident, you may be able to sue the at-fault driver for damages, even if you have limited tort coverage. However, if you do not suffer a serious injury, you may be limited to seeking workers compensation benefits, unless you meet one of the other exceptions mentioned above.

The determination of whether an injury is serious or not depends on the facts and circumstances of each case. There is no clear-cut definition or list of injuries that qualify as serious. Some examples of injuries that may be considered serious include:

  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Amputations
  • Burns
  • Fractures
  • Internal organ damage
  • Scarring
  • Disfigurement

Some examples of injuries that may not be considered serious include:

  • Whiplash
  • Sprains
  • Strains
  • Bruises
  • Cuts
  • Scrapes
  • Soft tissue injuries

However, these are only general guidelines and not definitive rules. The severity and impact of an injury may vary depending on the individual and the situation. For instance, a whiplash injury may not be serious for most people, but it may be serious for someone who has a pre-existing neck condition or who relies on their neck for their work. Similarly, a fracture may be serious for someone who works in a physical occupation, but not for someone who works in an office.

Therefore, it is important to consult with a workers compensation lawyer who can evaluate your injuries and determine whether they meet the serious injury threshold or not.

Pennsylvania’s Shared Fault System

Another factor that can affect your ability to pursue a personal injury claim after a work-related car accident is the degree of fault of the other driver. Pennsylvania follows a modified comparative negligence rule, which means that your compensation may be reduced or denied based on your share of fault for the accident. 

Under this rule, you can only recover damages from the other driver if you are less than 51% at fault for the accident. If you are more than 51% at fault, you cannot recover anything from the other driver. If you are less than 51% at fault, your compensation will be reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if you are 25% at fault and your damages are $100,000, you can only recover $75,000 from the other driver.

The determination of fault is not always straightforward, however. There may be multiple parties involved in the accident, such as other drivers, passengers, pedestrians, cyclists, or even your employer. Each party may have a different version of what happened and who was responsible. There may also be conflicting evidence, such as witness statements, police reports, photos, videos, or skid marks. In some cases, there may be no clear evidence at all, and the fault may be based on assumptions or speculations.

Therefore, it is important to consult with a workers compensation lawyer who can investigate the accident, gather and preserve the evidence, identify and interview the witnesses, and present a strong and persuasive case on your behalf.

How a Worker’s Compensation Lawyer Can Help

As you can see, pursuing a personal injury claim after a work-related car accident can be a complicated and challenging process. You may have to deal with multiple insurance companies, adjusters, lawyers, and courts, all while trying to recover from your injuries and cope with your losses. You may also face various legal hurdles, such as proving the seriousness of your injuries, establishing the fault of the other driver, and overcoming the defenses of the other party.

That is why you need the help of a workers compensation lawyer who can handle your claim from start to finish. A workers compensation lawyer can provide you with the following benefits:

  • Investigate the accident and collect the evidence to prove the liability and damages of the other driver
  • Negotiate with the insurance companies and adjusters to obtain a fair and reasonable settlement offer
  • File a lawsuit and represent you in court if the settlement offer is inadequate or if the claim is denied
  • Advise you on the best course of action for your case, whether it is to accept a settlement, go to trial, or pursue other options
  • Protect your rights and interests throughout the process and ensure that you receive the maximum compensation you deserve

If you have been injured in a work-related car accident, you should not hesitate to contact a workers compensation lawyer as soon as possible. The sooner you act, the better your chances of securing a favorable outcome for your case.

At Rankin & Gregory, LLC, we have the experience, knowledge, and skills to handle your workers compensation and car accident claim. We have helped thousands of injured workers and car accident victims in Pennsylvania recover the compensation they need and deserve. We work on a contingency fee basis, which means that you do not pay us anything unless we win your case. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at (717) 656-5000 or visit our website at https://www.rginjurylaw.com/ .

  • Bill Gregory

    I fight to obtain the greatest recovery for my clients, but I pride myself on listening to my clients and being there for them through the fight.

 

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