Work-Related Car Accidents
You’re a businessperson on your way to meet a potential new client at a restaurant in downtown Chicago. You didn’t want to be late, so you left with plenty of time to spare, and you’re driving carefully because you don’t want to risk getting pulled over for speeding or some other traffic infraction and missing your meeting. You’ve worked hard to prepare for this pitch, and if you land this client you’re going to look really good to your boss. You might even be in line for a promotion or a big bonus. Life is pretty good in this moment.
But everything changes in an instant when another driver runs a red light and crashes into your car — hard. The T-bone impact gives you a concussion, a broken arm, a couple of cracked ribs, and a slipped disc in your back. Instead of making it to your sales meeting, you end up in the nearest emergency room and then admitted to the hospital for several days for treatment of your injuries.
Once you get out of the hospital, you’re still in a lot of pain and you’ve been told you’re going to need surgery for your back, which will put you out of commission for weeks. Workers compensation will cover your medical costs, and you can recoup part of your lost salary in the form of temporary disability benefits. But it’s hard for most families these days to lose even a portion of their income, and workers compensation won’t cover all of your losses caused by the crash.
In Illinois, when you’re hurt in a work-related auto collision caused by another driver, you have the option to pursue a personal injury claim in addition to workers compensation benefits. If you’re successful in your personal injury claim, you may be able to receive compensation of any medical costs and lost wages related to the accident that may not be covered by workers compensation, as well as pain and suffering, disability and disfigurement, and loss of normal life.
A personal injury lawyer with experience in workers compensation law can discuss with you all of your options for compensation so that you can make informed decisions how to proceed and how to protect your family’s financial future in the aftermath of your injuries. Your lawyer can help you through the process of investigating your crash, compiling evidence to support your claims, pursuing your claims through the workers compensation and civil court systems, negotiating settlements, and trying your case.
Making a Workers Comp Claim
Workers compensation is a no-fault system, which means as long as you can demonstrate that you were injured in the course of your employment, your employer has to pay benefits. Benefits available through the workers compensation system include:
- Payment of the cost of your medical treatment
- Payment for temporary total or partial disability
- Payment for permanent total or partial disability
- Payment of vocational rehabilitation including job counseling and retraining
- Death benefits for family members of workers involved in fatal accidents
Claims typically are made initially to your employer or your employer’s workers compensation insurance company. If your claim is disputed, your workers compensation lawyer can help you make a claim through the Illinois Workers Compensation Commission, and an arbitrator will decide your claim if it can’t be settled.
One potential benefit to filing a workers compensation claim while pursuing a separate personal injury claim is that workers compensation benefits once approved will immediately start paying your medical bills and paying you for any temporary or permanent disability, while it could take months or years before your personal injury case is resolved and a settlement or verdict paid to you.
Making a Personal Injury Claim
A personal injury claim involves establishing that someone else was negligent, reckless, or acted intentionally in causing your injuries and other damages, and that your injuries are of the type that can be compensated. You would typically start by making a claim against the other driver’s insurance policy, or against your own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage if the other driver was either uninsured or didn’t carry enough coverage to pay your costs. Your Chicago personal injury lawyer can negotiate with the insurance company or file a lawsuit if the insurance company refuses to settle.
If you’re successful in a personal injury claim, you may be compensated for your medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, disability and disfigurement, and loss of normal life. You also can recover compensation for the property damage to your vehicle.
The benefit of making a personal injury claim is that you can receive compensation for damages not covered by workers compensation. However, a portion of your settlement or verdict may go back to your employer to reimburse your employer for workers compensation benefits paid to you because of a third party’s negligence.