If you are injured on the job while you are driving, and the accident was not your fault, you may have two cases and not just one. You will have a workers’ compensation claim, and you may also have what is called a third party claim against the driver’s insurance company. That means your case(s) will be more complicated than the usual workplace injury case. Most importantly, not all personal injury attorneys are knowledgeable about workers’ compensation. In fact, many are not! Workers’ compensation is a very specialized area of law. Therefore, it is very important to seek out a law firm that does BOTH workers’ compensation and personal injury.
If the driver who caused the accident has only a minimal liability policy of $15,000, your workers’ compensation benefits may be even more important to you than your personal injury attorney realizes. Also, because the workers’ compensation insurer who pays for medical or compensation benefits on your claim is entitled to share in any recovery against the person who is at fault for the accident, your attorney will be important in negotiating who gets what portion of any settlement monies. This is another reason why you need both a workers’ compensation attorney in addition to a personal injury attorney to make sure that you are getting all benefits and monetary damages available to you.
There are some crucial questions regarding cases where there is a workers’ compensation and personal injury case. For example, will the attorney be representing you on your workers’ compensation claim, or just on your personal injury claim against the driver who hit you, or both (this is the most preferred)? Workers’ compensation law has a different court system to decide disputed issues with insurers, and is based on laws passed by the Nevada legislature. Personal injury cases, on the other hand, are decided under tort law, based on traditional common law and statutory law. The money and/or treatment received is administered very differently under both claims, even though it is the same injury. It is essential that the attorney knows BOTH workers’ compensation and personal injury.
If, for example, you only hire a personal injury attorney and try to handle your workers’ compensation claim yourself (which is never recommended), is your personal injury attorney aware that under Nevada workers’ compensation law, you must see only doctors on your insurer’s provider list? When the adverse driver’s liability policy limits are low, you don’t want to unnecessarily pay for medical treatment on a lien basis from your portion of a personal injury settlement if you can receive medical treatment under your workers’ compensation claim. Has the attorney asked you about what other motor vehicle policies might have coverage available to compensate you? Lastly, does your personal injury attorney use a subrogation lien agreement to address what offsets the workers’ compensation insurer will assert after your personal injury case is settled, both on an open workers’ compensation claim and in the event the claim is reopened?
As you can see, when there are two cases due to one injury, it gets very complicated. It is of the utmost importance to hire an attorney that can help you with both your workers’ compensation claim and your third party claim. Workers’ compensation is not personal injury, and do not let anyone fool you into thinking that it is.