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Many people’s jobs require them to drive to places other than their offices or worksites during their work days.
Whether they’re driving to client meetings, to make deposits at the bank, or to participate in company outings, employees face risks every time they get behind the wheel, regardless of where they’re going.
When those work-related trips turn into painful car accidents, many workers wonder whether they should file workers’ compensation claims through the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) or if they should sue the drivers who hit them.
The answer to this question depends on the circumstances of the crash.
Workers’ compensation doesn’t cover accidents or injuries that occur while workers are commuting to and from work to start or end their work days, since your commute is not considered part of your work hours. That means if you’re hurt in a crash on your way to the office or on your way home, you should file an injury claim against the driver who hit you, just as you would if you were hurt while driving to the grocery store on a weekend.
However, you may be able to get workers’ compensation benefits if you were involved in a crash during your daily commute that included a detour to complete work-related tasks, such as picking up supplies for your boss or coworkers before reaching the office. As soon as the purpose of a drive changes from getting you to or from work and instead becomes about completing a work-related task or request, workers’ compensation benefits become a possibility.
The fault for many crashes falls at the feet of both drivers. In Ohio, you’re still eligible to file a personal injury claim after a crash as long as you’re 50% or less at fault for it. But if you’re 51% or more at fault, you can’t get compensation for it.
But because workers’ compensation in Ohio is considered “no-fault,” you CAN get workers’ compensation benefits for a work-related crash regardless of your level of fault. The only exceptions to this are if you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the crash or if you were deliberately driving recklessly.
Many people who are injured in work-related crashes are eligible to file both workers’ compensation claims and personal injury claims. In fact, it’s often a good idea to file for both in order to ensure that your accident-related damages are fully compensated, as both claims have different uses and cover different expenses.
People who file both workers’ compensation claims and personal injury claims usually receive workers’ compensation benefits first. Personal injury claims often take longer to settle, as auto insurance companies often refuse to pay victims fair compensation without weeks or months of back-and-forth negotiation. And when claims turn into lawsuits that end up in court, it can take even longer for victims to get paid.
Having workers’ compensation benefits can help you keep up with your medical bills and lost wages while you wait for your injury claim or lawsuit to finalize and for your check to arrive. However, through a legal process called subrogation, your employer or the BWC has the right to be reimbursed for what they paid you to cover your medical bills and lost wages if you receive a settlement or jury award for the crash.
Car accidents are frightening and stressful no matter when and where they happen. But they can be even more stressful for victims when they don’t know how to get compensation or what benefits or damages they’re eligible to receive.
At Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy, we know that the intersection of personal injury claims and workers’ compensation benefits is confusing. Our Ohio workers’ compensation attorneys can investigate the facts of your crash to determine if you’re eligible to file for workers’ comp benefits, a personal injury claim, or both. Then, we’ll devise a plan to maximize your benefits and compensation.
Contact us today for a free consultation.
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