Car accidents that occur while you’re driving a company vehicle can present complex legal challenges because they involve two types of claims: a personal injury claim and a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. If you’ve been injured in this type of accident, you need to contact an attorney as soon as possible to protect your right to compensation.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim
As with other personal injury claims, the driver who caused your injuries must compensate you for:
- Medical expenses related to the immediate treatment of your injuries
- Any anticipated future medical needs related to a permanent disability caused by the accident
- Lost wages from the time you were recovering from your injuries
- Any anticipated future loss of earning potential related to a permanent disability caused by the accident
- Pain and suffering, including the physical pain of your injures and any emotional trauma you suffered as a result of the accident
Louisiana law allows you to seek compensation from the other driver, even if you were partially at fault for the accident that caused your injuries. Your settlement will be proportionally reduced by your assigned percentage of fault to reflect your own financial responsibility.
If you’re involved in an accident while driving a company vehicle, your employer is generally liable for the damages that are suffered by other parties. You wouldn’t be personally liable unless you are classified as an independent contractor, you were using the company vehicle for personal reasons, or you were engaged in criminal activity such as drunk driving at the time of the accident.
Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim
If you’re considered on-the-job at the time the accident occurred, workers’ compensation can pay for your medical care and a portion of your lost wages. This is particularly beneficial if you were at fault or partially at fault for the accident, since workers’ compensation is considered a no-fault system and will pay the claim even if you made an error that caused the collision.
Workers’ compensation claims do not provide compensation for pain and suffering damages and will only pay two-thirds of your average weekly wage up to the state-approved maximum. However, a workers’ compensation claim would begin paying benefits much more quickly than any personal injury claim resulting from the accident.
If you file a personal injury claim and a workers’ compensation claim, there may be a lien on your personal injury award that forces you to repay the Louisiana Office of Workers’ Compensation Administration for a portion of the benefits you previously received. Working with an attorney who handles both personal injury and workers’ compensation claims is the best way to ensure you receive full compensation under the law.
Protecting Your Right to Compensation
In both personal injury and workers’ compensation claims, there are key steps you must take to protect your rights:
Report the accident.
In addition to the report with law enforcement, you need to report the car accident to your employer. If your employer is not notified of your injury within 30 days, you could lose your right to workers’ compensation benefits under Louisiana law. When your employer is notified, they will file a First Report of Injury form with their workers’ compensation insurer. Then, the workers’ compensation insurer will notify the Office of Workers' Compensation Administration and begin investigating your claim.
Seek medical treatment.
Even if you feel as though your injuries will heal on their own, seek a complete medical evaluation. You need medical documentation linking your injuries to the accident.
Do not speak to insurance adjusters until you’ve consulted an attorney.
In both personal injury and workers’ compensation claims, the insurance adjuster is not on your side. Their job is to minimize the payout you receive to protect their employer’s profit margin. Your attorney should handle any necessary communication on your behalf.
Have You or Your Loved One Been Injured in a Louisiana Car Accident?
If you or your loved one have been hurt in an accident while driving a company vehicle, our experienced car accident attorneys can help. Please contact us online or call our Alexandria office directly at 318.541.8188 to schedule your free consultation.