Requirements to Receive Workers' Compensation Benefits
Workers' compensation benefits cover most Louisiana workers, including part-time, full-time, temporary, and seasonal employees. Coverage starts on the first day of employment, even if the worker is a minor. Notable exceptions to workers' compensation coverage include domestic employees, the majority of real estate salespeople, uncompensated officers and directors of selected non-profit organizations, and public officials.
Workers' compensation benefits cover all work-related duties. If you were involved in a car accident, this includes activities such as:
- Running an errand requested by your boss or employer
- Transporting another employee to a meeting or other work task
- Making deliveries of supplies or products
- Traveling to attend a work-related conference or meeting with a client
- Performing a job that involves driving for a living
- Performing a job that involves traveling for work and has no fixed office location
Typically, you can't receive workers' compensation benefits if the accident occurred during your commute. However, if you were running an errand for your boss or employer before heading into the office and were involved in a car accident, you might be considered eligible for benefits.
Receiving workers' compensation benefits only requires that you be performing job-related tasks at the time of your injury. Therefore, it does not matter whether you were driving a company car or your own personal vehicle at the time of the accident.
Fault is irrelevant in a worker's compensation claim, so you can still receive benefits even if the accident that caused your injuries was the result of your inattentiveness or carelessness. However, you may lose your right to benefits if you don't report the incident to your employer within 30 days. Your employer will complete Louisiana Department of Labor Form 1007 (Employer Report of Injury or Illness) to submit to the Office of Workers' Compensation. You should request a copy of this report for your own records.
Workers' compensation benefits include necessary medical care from the doctor of your choice, indemnity wage benefits, and vocational rehabilitation services if you've suffered an injury that will prevent you from returning to the work you previously performed. Death benefits are paid to spouses and children in the event of a fatal car accident.
Your employer is not allowed to terminate your employment because you've filed for workers' compensation benefits. However, in certain circumstances, your employer may not be required to hold your position open until you are ready to return to work.
Civil Claims for Car Accident Injuries
If you were performing job-related tasks for your employer and the accident was not your fault, you may also have a civil claim against the driver responsible for the incident. If you were partially at fault, you can file a claim for damages, and your settlement will be reduced by your assigned percentage of fault to reflect your own responsibility for your injuries.
If you are eligible to pursue both workers' compensation benefits and a civil claim, it's in your interest to take both types of action. Civil claims can provide payment for property damage, including repairs necessary if you were driving your personal vehicle. Civil claims also provide payment for pain and suffering damages, which can be significant if your injuries resulted in the need for extensive medical treatment and time away from work.
Civil claims can take several months or even years to resolve. Once you receive a settlement, the workers' compensation insurer will have a lien on the funds to seek repayment of the benefits you received for medical care and lost wages. The funds covering other damages are yours to keep.
The Value of Skilled Representation
An experienced workers' compensation attorney can help evaluate the circumstances surrounding your car accident to determine what benefits you may be eligible to receive. Please call the legal team of Neblett, Beard & Arsenault at 318.588.6303 to schedule a free, no-obligation case review. You can also contact us online for more information.