You are driving on the road, performing your job, when suddenly you are pushed off of the road by another driver. If you get injured, you may want to seek compensation for your injuries in the accident.
However, if you were working as an employee, you may also be able to get compensation for any lost wages that occur because of your injuries through your own employer. What happens if the unthinkable occurs? Are you still entitled to a workers’ compensation claim?
We have asked an attorney, Alaina Sullivan, about what you should do. Here is what she had to say:
What is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is insurance that offers wage replacement, as well as medical benefits, to any employees who were injured during the normal course of employment. However, workers’ compensation works as an exchange, meaning the employee exchanges the right to file a law suit against his or her employer in return for receiving this compensation.
Doctrine of Respondeat Superior
When it comes to matters involving workers’ compensation, the doctrine of respondeat superior comes into play. This doctrine describes the relationship between an employer and employee in terms of who pays for injuries or damages done during the normal course of business.
Under the doctrine of respondeat superior, the employer is legally responsible for the actions of their employees while the employees are conducting business within the normal scope of their employment. The relationship between employers and employees who drive company vehicles falls under the legal doctrine of respondeat superior.
This means employers are legally responsible for the actions of their employees while “acting within the scope of their employment.” The employer’s responsibility includes paying for injuries and property damage caused by an employee while driving a company vehicle.
Operating a Company Vehicle
If the employee is driving a company car, truck or other vehicle, it can be safely assumed that normally the employee is acting within the scope of employment. For instance, if the employee is making a delivery or driving to and from an off-site job with the permission of his or her employer, that would qualify as scope of employment.
In addition, using the company car while pursuing another duty of employment is considered within that person’s scope of employment. However, if the employee is taking the car on a joy ride that is completely outside of his or her job duties, the employer can fight liability for the accident.
Employee Injured Because of Negligence of a Third Party
If you, as the employee, were operating a company vehicle and were injured because another driver was being negligent, then you are entitled to receiving damages under two different sources of compensation: your employer’s workers’ compensation policy and under the other driver’s liability insurance policy.
What is the difference between the two? Workers’ compensation will pay for a portion of the injured employee’s lost wages but will not cover the employee’s pain and suffering. The third party’s liability insurance covers not only the employee’s lost wages but also an amount for pain and suffering.
Choosing Between the Two Options
By choosing to accept the workers’ compensation, you are waiving the right to sue your employer for your injuries, not necessarily the third party. The caveat is, however, that you cannot seek relief from both sources in full. If you get compensated from both sources, then you will likely need to reimburse your workers’ compensation for the portion that would be covered.
However, the problem arises when you, as the employee, cannot get pain and suffering and only two-thirds of lost wages in workers’ compensation. Therefore, you can keep the part of the award that includes what you would not get from workers’ compensation, making it possible for you to keep the pain and suffering award and any amount that is in excess of the partial wage payments through workers’ compensation.
Contact a Lawyer Today
If you have been involved in an accident during the normal course of business and you have questions about your ability to seek workers’ compensation benefits, it is highly recommended that you contact an attorney to answer your questions. A licensed attorney trained in workers’ compensation law will be able to review your case and determine your best course of action. To receive the compensation you deserve, complete the Free Case Evaluation on this page.