If you are like many people, you may have to drive at least some of the time for your job either using your personal vehicle or a company car. Unfortunately, this increases the risk that you will be injured in an automobile accident caused by a negligent driver. Are you entitled to workers’ compensation benefits in this situation?

Workers’ Comp Benefits Depend on Whether You Were Injured While On the Job

Like most states, New Jersey requires you to be on the job when your vehicle crash occurs in order to be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Some of the rules regarding whether you are at work include:

  • New Jersey follows a “premises rule” that considers your employment to start when you arrive at your job and to end when you leave your job.
  • An exception to the rule is when you are driving a company car and you are on a work-related mission or your employer pays you for your transportation time.

You may have to drive for a number of work-related duties that could result in you qualifying for workers’ compensation. These could include the following situations:

  • Picking up documents or equipment from another business for your job on your way to or from work
  • Running an errand for your supervisor or employer
  • Making deliveries for work
  • Transporting another employee somewhere for a work-related job or event
  • If you drive for a living, for example, if you are a salesperson
  • If your job requires you to travel and you have no fixed office
  • If your employer pays you for your travel time to and from work

Can You Bring a Claim Against the Other Driver?

If another driver caused your accident, you may be able to file a lawsuit against him whether or not you can file a workers’ compensation claim. New Jersey has a no-fault law in which your own automobile insurance policy could cover some of your medical expenses even if you were not at fault in causing the crash. However, if you suffered serious injuries, like hip and other serious fractures, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, and back injuries, you may have a claim against the negligent driver and his insurance company. As with workers’ compensation, you may be able to receive compensation for your medical bills and lost wages from the other driver. However, unlike workers’ comp, you may be entitled to the following types of damages:

  • Your vehicle repair costs and other property damage reimbursement
  • Car rental costs while your vehicle is being repaired
  • Pain and suffering

Workers’ compensation and personal injury cases can differ in other ways as well. You do not have to prove your employer’s or anyone else’s fault in a workers’ compensation case to be entitled to benefits. In a lawsuit against another driver, you have to prove his negligent driving caused your accident.

In addition, there are different statutes of limitations, or time periods, for filing a workers’ compensation and car accident case. If you fail to file a claim within these time frames, you lose your right to do so. In a workers’ comp case, an employee must report an injury to his supervisor within 14 days and the statute of limitations for filing a claim is two years from the date of the accident. In a car accident case, the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit could be two years for personal injuries or wrongful death and six years for property damages. However, there are often exceptions to these time periods, so it is always best to consult with an experienced attorney.

What Happens If You Receive Workers’ Compensation and a Personal Injury Settlement?

It can become more complicated if you are entitled to both workers’ compensation benefits and compensation from the other driver or his insurance company. Your employer or its workers’ compensation insurance company could have a lien—or a right to reimbursement—against your personal injury lawsuit compensation. For example, if you received $15,000 in workers’ compensation benefits and $60,000 in a settlement in your car accident case, your employer could be entitled to be reimbursed for the $15,000 they paid you.

If you or a family member was injured in a car accident while at work, you need an experienced workers’ compensation and personal injury attorney. Start an online chat today to schedule a free consultation to learn how I can assist you in getting the compensation you deserve.

Manfred Ricciardelli
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Morristown Workers' Compensation Lawyer