Guide to On The Job Vehicle Accidents
FIVE QUESTIONS WE FREQUENTLY HEAR FROM CALLERS ABOUT ON-THE-JOB MOTOR VEHICLE CRASHES:
1. Do I have to sign the forms I got from the insurance adjuster?
Answer: For your workers’ comp case, you will be asked to fill out medical authorizations. These are required by law. You do not have to fill out any forms from the liability adjuster in the motor vehicle case.
2. How will my medical bills get paid?
Answer: The workers’ comp insurer is primarily responsible for paying all of your medical bills for any on-the-job injury in Kentucky, even if you also have a liability claim in a motor vehicle case. Kentucky “no fault” auto insurance does not pay for medical bills if they are covered by workers’ comp.
3. How can I calculate how much my case is worth?
Answer: In Kentucky workers’ comp cases, the value of your case is determined by a formula prescribed by statute. The main factors are your permanent impairment rating for your injury, your average weekly wage, and whether you can perform the same job that you were doing when you were injured. For motor vehicle cases, determination of settlement value is more complex and takes into account many factors. The workers’ comp insurer also has a claim for what pays against the party at fault. It is important to know what credits and set-offs apply to this claim in order to maximize your recovery in the motor vehicle case.
4. When should I speak to an attorney?
Answer: The first priority with any on-the-job motor vehicle crash is to notify the employer immediately and make sure you get the medical attention you need. If medical bills and any lost wages are being paid without any issue by the workers’ comp insurer, then usually it is not urgent to speak to an attorney. The BIG exception is if the motor vehicle crash involves a commercial vehicle such as an 18-wheeler, as opposed to a private passenger vehicle. These cases generally involve more severe crashes and more severe injuries, and it is important to speak to an attorney as soon as possible to inspect the accident scene and involve an expert if necessary.
At some point, it is usually necessary to hire an attorney in any case involving an injury from an on-the-job motor vehicle crash, simply because these cases are more complicated than just a workers’ comp case or a motor vehicle case standing alone, and it takes an attorney experienced in both areas to work out both cases in the best interests of the client.
5. Do I have to give a recorded statement to the adjuster?
There is no legal requirement to give a recorded statement to an adjuster in a workers’ comp case or a motor vehicle crash case. Typically, a workers’ comp adjuster may request a written statement or completion of a form, and this is usually not a matter of concern unless there is some issue as to whether the motor vehicle crash was job-related. However, no one should ever give a statement to a liability adjuster in a motor vehicle crash case without first seeking the advice of an attorney.
ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS YOU DIDN’T KNOW TO ASK ABOUT ON-THE-JOB MOTOR VEHICLE CRASHES:
1. Can I recover workers’ compensation and a personal injury settlement from the same motor vehicle crash?
Yes, in most cases, if the motor vehicle crash happens while you are on the job and was caused by someone else’s fault. In these types of cases, it is important to hire an attorney who is experienced both in workers’ compensation and motor vehicle cases. Many attorneys specialize in workers’ compensation cases, and many attorneys specialize in motor vehicle cases, but there are far fewer attorneys with experience in handling both types of cases. An attorney experienced in both types of cases knows how these cases interact and can maximize your recovery in both cases.
At Harville Law Offices, we have over 50 years of combined experience handling both workers’ compensation and motor vehicle cases.
2. What if I am injured in an on-the-job motor vehicle crash but the driver at fault is uninsured?
You would still have a right to workers’ compensation benefits for your injuries, but you would also have the right to seek benefits under any uninsured motorist (UM) coverage on the vehicle you were driving, or under your own personal auto policy. The same is true if you were injured, and your damages exceed the liability policy limits of the driver at fault. In that situation, you would have the right to seek benefits under any underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage on the vehicle you were driving, or under your own personal auto policy. The workers’ compensation insurer is not entitled to any reimbursement from UM or UIM benefits in Kentucky.
3. What if I am offered a settlement before I hire an attorney?
Beware! Insurance companies often try to take advantage of injured people before they hire an attorney, by offering them a lump sum for substantially less than their case is worth. This is true in both workers’ compensation cases and motor vehicle cases. In workers’ compensation, the value of a settlement is determined largely by an injured workers’ permanent impairment rating (PPI), which frequently requires the assistance of an attorney to obtain this rating from a doctor. An attorney can also negotiate with the workers’ compensation insurer to prevent it from asserting any claim for reimbursement (called “subrogation”) from any personal injury settlement.
HOW IT WORKS
- Gathering Your Records – Your medical records play an important role in the value of your case. While your help may be needed in securing some of your records, Harville Law Offices works to make the process go smoothly with as little work for you as possible. Other records may need to be gathered, too, such as documentation for lost wages.
- Creating a Settlement Evaluation – Once all of the records have been obtained, we consult with all of our clients concerning our settlement evaluation. We do this in both workers’ compensation and motor vehicle cases. We will provide you with an overview of what we believe to be the settlement value range of your case after reviewing your records, comparing it to similar cases, and our experience in dealing with the insurance company involved. Our settlement evaluation is not a guarantee of an outcome, but it does provide you with an in-depth analysis of your case’s potential value. Your approval of our recommendation allows us to begin the next step.
- Send a Demand Package – This is essentially the compete documentation regarding your case along with a demand for financial compensation based upon our settlement evaluation. Depending on the facts and circumstances of each case, we may request the insurance company to respond with an offer, or we may state a dollar figure or demand policy limits. We will take care of dealing with the insurance adjuster and keep you informed of the response we receive.
- Negotiations – Not every case settles in a matter of weeks, or months, or even a year or more. However, in every case, there comes a time when we will negotiate on your behalf with the insurance company. These negotiations may go back and forth for some time and can take several weeks or months. If a resolution that is fair appears unlikely in the negotiation process, we will take the next step by filing a workers’ compensation claim or a lawsuit.
- Filing Your Case – Filing a workers’ compensation claim or a lawsuit is the actual act of “suing” someone. If we cannot settle your case for something reasonable and fair, we will file your case and begin the process of preparing your case for a final hearing or trial. We go to final hearings, and trials, on a regular basis, so we have no fear of filing a workers’ compensation claim or a lawsuit. Make sure that whoever you hire to handle your case feels the same way.
Want to meet with us to discuss your case and how this process could help you reach a successful resolution? Call us at (502) 245-2333 to arrange for a free consultation.