Many jobs nowadays require employees to drive during working hours. So what happens when tragedy strikes and an employee is injured in a car accident while he or she is out on the road taking care of business for his or her employer?
Employees whose duties include driving during working hours need to know if and how their medical bills will be paid and what will happen to their wages if they are injured in a car accident on the job.
Here are the important things that employees need to know about work related Michigan car accidents and who is responsible for helping them get the medical care they need to recover, the financial support they need to support their families and the pain and suffering compensation they are entitled to.
Who is responsible?
Generally, your employer will be responsible for paying for your medical bills and lost wages.
If you were an employee at the time you were injured and if the car accident that resulted in your injuries occurred in the course of your employment, then your employer’s Workers’ Compensation insurance will be responsible for paying for your accident-related medical bills and for your lost wages as long as your injuries disable you from working.
Depending on what an injured employee’s future medical needs and employment options may be, medical bills and lost wages will be significant factors in employees’ workers comp settlement amounts.
Even if you are covered by auto insurance, Workers’ Comp will pay first – before No-Fault or any other insurance. No-Fault auto insurance only comes into play when and if an employee’s Workers’ Comp benefits have reached their limit and/or been exhausted.
Does fault matter?
No. An employee’s entitlement to Workers’ Compensation benefits for injuries arising from a car accident during working hours is not affected by whether the employee was negligent in causing or contributing to the accident.
What benefits are covered for an employee?
Benefits include medical treatment, lost wages, and vocational rehabilitation. Medical bills should be paid in full without any co-pays or deductibles. Lost wages should be paid based upon 80% of their after-tax average weekly wage.
When is an employee not covered?
Workers’ compensation does not cover going to or coming from work. However, exceptions include: (1) when the employer paid for transportation; (2) when it occurred during working hours; (3)when the employer derived a special benefit from the activities; and (4)when the employee is exposed to excessive traffic risks. Each car accident must be examined on its own set of facts. We recommend speaking with a lawyer to make sure that Workers’ Compensation benefits are paid.
What is the role of Michigan No-Fault auto insurance?
A Michigan No-Fault auto insurance company will be responsible for paying for the medical care and treatment of an employee who was injured in a car accident during working hours to the extent the care and treatment is not covered by Workers’ Compensation. No-Fault will also provide wage loss benefits when Workers’ Comp coverage ceases. For example, Workers’ Comp pays 80% of an employee’s pre-injury wages, whereas No-Fault pays for 85% and, thus, No-Fault will pay for the differential in covered lost wages.
Additionally, injured employees can make a claim for replacement services to cover household chores and tasks. Watch out for auto insurance companies who refuse to pay No-Fault claims, insisting that Workers’ Compensation is primary. No-Fault insurance companies can be made to pay when Workers’ Compensation has disputed a claim.
Pain and suffering damages
Employees who have been hurt in a car accident during working hours because of a negligent driver can sue the at-fault driver for pain and suffering compensation in a civil lawsuit in Michigan. This compensation would be in addition to any Workers’ Compensation and/or No-Fault benefits that are received.
Lawsuits for pain and suffering apply to both drivers and passengers who were hurt. It is critical to speak with an attorney to make sure all of your legal options for the recovery of benefits and compensation have been explored.
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon that the Workers’ Compensation insurance company will try to recoup some of the money it has paid out in benefits from an injured employee’s pain and suffering settlement against an at-fault driver. Special rules govern Workers’ Comp reimbursement under these circumstances. It is essential that you talk with your lawyer before paying any money to the Workers’ Comp insurance company from your third-party settlement against the at-fault driver.
This blog is printed with permission.
About the Author: Jeffrey E. Kaufman has been a workers’ compensation lawyer since 2005 and is a partner at Michigan Workers Comp Lawyers in Farmington Hills, Michigan. He is an executive board member for the Michigan Association for Justice and speaks annually at the association’s Annual Workers’ Compensation/Social Security Seminar.
He believes all injured workers deserve to be on equal footing with insurance companies and employers, and he fights tenaciously so their rights are secured and protected.