When people hear the phrase “on-the-job accident”, most think of accidents that happen in factories, warehouses, offices, and construction sites. But a significant number of work-related accidents in Colorado happen on streets and highways. For example, 41 percent of work-related deaths occur in the transportation industries, primarily the trucking industry.
In most cases, you can claim worker’s compensation benefits whether you drive full-time for a living or you only occasionally use a company vehicle or your own vehicle to perform work-related tasks.
You may have two claims
Employees who are covered by workers’ compensation insurance and who suffer injuries in a motor vehicle accident can claim workers’ compensation benefits. They may also be able to claim additional compensation through a claim against a negligent driver’s insurance company or another third party. In many cases, the value of the compensation obtained from the third-party claim far exceeds the value of the workers’ compensation benefits the employee is entitled to.
How a work comp claim differs from a third-party claim
There are significant differences between a workers’ compensation claim and a third-party claim:
- Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. You can be at fault and still qualify for benefits. By its nature however, a third-party claim involves fault on the part of the other driver or another party such as a vehicle manufacturer.
- Workers’ compensation benefits are limited to payment for medical costs, wage replacement, permanent disability, and certain other expenses. In a third-party claim, you can demand full compensation for past and future wage losses, pain and suffering, and other economic and noneconomic losses.
- The two claims stem from the same incident, but proceed on parallel tracks in separate venues. A hearing regarding disputed work comp claim will be heard by an administrative law judge from the Colorado Division of Workers’ Compensation. A third-party claim is a lawsuit that will be tried in civil court, if it is not settled before trial.
- A mistake made when pursuing one claim can rebound negatively on the other claim. Therefore, it’s important for the attorneys handling the claims to maintain close communication during the legal process.
- If you win compensation from a third-party claim, you may have to pay back some of the workers’ compensation benefits you have already received.
- If you are injured while driving for work outside Colorado, you can claim Colorado workers’ compensation benefits. You may also be able pursue a lawsuit against a negligent third-party in the state where you were injured.
As you can see, workers’ compensation claims stemming from motor vehicle accidents can involve complex legal issues. If you have been harmed in a work-related car, truck or bus accident, you should speak with an experienced lawyer concerning your legal options.