What happens if you’re driving while in the course of your employment (on the job) and another vehicle crashes into you? It’s a scenario we deal with all too often. If you were injured, you would be able to pursue both a Worker’s Compensation claim and potentially bring a claim against the other (at-fault) vehicle.
In New Jersey, the Worker’s Compensation Act (WCA) provides a “system of compensation for workers” injured in the course of their employment. Worker’s Compensation benefits would therefore be the primary source of recovery for injuries suffered by employees.
This differs from an accident or crash while not on the job. In the latter type of motor vehicle accident, an injured person would be able to receive medical benefits from the No-Fault or PIP (Personal Injury Protection) insurance company. However, in a work-related motor vehicle accident scenario, that automobile insurance company may not have to pay for medical expense benefits.
The purpose of the WCA is to provide a prompt and automatic entitlement to benefits for work-related injuries. The trade-off is that the employees give up their right to sue their employers and co-workers. The WCA does not however, preclude suits against third-parties responsible for their injuries. (For the lawyers: See N.J.S.A. 34:15-40; Danesi v. Am. Mfrs. Mut. Ins. Co., 189 N.J.Super.160, 162-66, 459 A.2d 686 (App.Div.), certif. denied, 94 N.J. 544, 468 A.2d 194 (1983).)
So, if you sustained documented injuries, you may be entitled to bring a claim against that at-fault vehicle. Our law firm would be able to tell you your rights depending on the specifics of your claim and whether it would even be worthwhile bringing a claim.
WORKER’S COMPENSATION LIEN
If an employee does pursue a third-party claim against the other vehicle, the WCA provides that a Worker’s Compensation insurer is entitled to a repayment of medical expenses paid and compensation payments, less the employee’s expenses of suit and attorney’s fee. Thus, the law imposes a lien in favor of the worker’s compensation carrier against the proceeds of the third-party recovery obtained by an injured worker. The lawyers at Raff & Raff handle personal injury and Worker’s Compensation cases. Feel free to contact us if you should have any questions in this area.
Michael Raff, Esq.