If you have been injured on the job you probably do qualify for worker's compensation. But you may also be able to seek a personal injury settlement. If you were injured by a "Third Party" while working then you can claim damages from them.
For example, if you are driving for your employer (usually Lyft, Uber, etc. won't apply) and you are involved in a car accident, then you can make a worker's compensation claim and you can make a third party tort claim against the at-fault driver's insurance. Just reading that sentence may look complicated and it is. If you want to know more (for fee/no obligation) give me a call at (602) 540-6803.
Here are the questions you need to answer for yourself: 1. Do I need a worker's compensation attorney? 2. Do I need a personal injury attorney? 3. Can I make my worker's compensation claim work with my personal injury claim?
Let's flesh out our example a little more. Employee works for a hardware store and is asked to deliver 5 boxes of nails to a customer. Employee takes his car and on the way he is rear-ended. He injures his back and neck and breaks his leg.
First of all he can make a worker's compensation claim for his medical care and 60% of his lost wages while he's out of work. Now, if worker's compensation refuses to pay for the medical treatment, then he is going to need a worker's compensation attorney. (He may also want to hire a worker's compensation attorney for other reasons, including to watch over his case and make sure he is getting everything he needs).
Let's say, in our example, that worker's compensation sends him to an orthopedic doctor to get his leg fixed and sends him to physical therapy to get his neck and back better. They pay $10,000 for his medical treatment and $6,000 for his wages while he is out.
Typically, worker's compensation will get an employee enough medical care to get them back to work. That can mean that they feel about 80% back to normal, but certainly not completely well. This is where a good personal injury lawyer can benefit you. The employee may need to get into a spine specialist or a chiropractor. He may even need to get shots, epidurals, or surgical intervention to get out of pain. Let's say, for our example, that he gets back surgery because of a blown disc and has some chiropractic care for his neck. Let's say that the surgery costs his medical insurance $10,000 and he treats at the chiropractor on a lien for $5,000 (These numbers are probably not realistic - only exemplary).
Now, it's been a year and he is finally well 100%! He makes his personal injury claim (here's where it gets tricky). The cost of his physical therapy is $20,000 and his Orthopedic treatment is $50,000 (again, not realistic). So he's got $70,000 in medical bills and worker's compensation paid out $10,000.
The cost of his back surgery is $30,000 and his medical insurance paid out $10,000. And the cost of his chiropractic treatment is $5,000. Finally, lost wages is $10,000 and worker's compensation paid $6,000.
The total is $105,000 in medical bills and $10,000 in lost wages. Let's say the pain and suffering is worth $185,000 so we can make it a round $300,000 problem.
First he has to collect from the insurance of the person who caused the accident. For our example, each insurance policy will be $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident. So he get's $100,000 from the "Third Party Insurance."
Second, he has a policy of $100,000/300,000 Underinsured Motorist Coverage and so does his employer. So his second claim will be against his employer's "UIM" coverage. Third he will collect from his own "UIM" policy. So he's got $300,000 in recovery.
But now, he has to make sure all the liens are paid off. Remember this: Workers Compensation gets paid back. They get paid $10,000 for what they paid in medical expenses and $6,000 for the lost wages: $16,000.
Second, he has to pay back his medical insurance for what they paid ($10,000). Third, he has to pay his chiropractor $5,000. He also has to pay his attorney fee out of this settlement, which is generally 1/3 contingency rate. So from that $300,000 settlement, his attorney gets $100,000, and $31,000 pays off the liens. He gets to keep $169,000.
That's a pretty simple example. Worker's compensation can get a lot more complicated very quickly.