Work-Related Car and Truck Accidents Can Yield More Substantial Settlements through the Interplay Between Workers Comp and Liability Coverages

At Clark and Steinhorn, LLC we see pretty much every species of personal injury case you can conjure. Many such cases take place during our client's workday and these cases often result in greater compensation inuring to our clients than off-work accidents.

The reason for this phenomenon involves the potentially beneficial interplay between workers compensation and liability benefits. If you are injured while in the course of your employment in a car or truck accident, you are entitled to the same panoply of benefits that any other workers compensation claimants receive.

These include payment of lost or reduced time from work, so-called temporary total or partial disability benefits, payment of medical and prescription costs and in some instances the slightly inaccurately named permanent impairment or disability.

Simultaneously, you can pursue a liability claim for many of the same benefits as the workers compensation case including medical expenses, lost wages, prescription costs and other associated expenses but additionally you can seek compensation for pain and suffering.

The workers compensation insurer that pays your benefits is entitled to lien on your liability settlement but such liens are routinely reduced and liability claims are evaluated using the actual, gross medical bills as opposed to the significantly lesser sum paid by the workers compensation insurance carrier pursuant to the workers comp schedule.

What does this all mean in practical terms? Lets do a story problem.

Sharice is driving her UPS route when she gets in a bad crash with a car that suddenly pulls into her vehicle's path. She goes to the hospital by ambulance and misses four months from work while her broken arm heals. Under workers comp all her medical bills ( Lets say $20,000.00) are paid, her four months of time lost from work are paid to her at a rate of 2/3's of her average weekly wage ( 16 weeks at $1000.00 per week or $16,000.00) , her mileage to and from healthcare providers are paid as are her prescriptions. Ultimately Sharice receives a permanent impairment rating for her arm that pays her an additional $20,000.00.

So the lien is $20,000.00 plus $16,000.00 plus $20,000.00 or $56,000.00. But of course you know that these $20,000.00 in medical bills are actually paid to the doctors at a lesser rate say $12,000.00 and the workers comp lost wages are 2/3's of the actual lost pay so the lien is really $8000.00 less and the full wages and medical bills are claimed in the liability case. So the lien is $48,000.00 and the lien is reduced by the contingency payment of legal fees in the liability case typically 1/3 or 40%.

Which is to say that the workers comp lien is on the order of $30,000.00 but the amount you can claim in liability is the full cost of the medical bills or $20,000.00, the full lost wages (16 weeks at $1500.00 per week or $24,000.00) plus pain and suffering, which is routinely computed as a multiple of the other damages or say 1 to 3 times the previously claimed $44,000.00 yielding a settlement on the order of $88,000.00 to $132,000.00.

While these numbers aren't a certainty they do provide some general guidance that an $88,000.00 settlement would contemplate repaying workers comp $30,000.00 (Mind you Sharice already received her $20,000.00 permanent impairment so workers comp really gets back a net of $10,000.00) with the remainder going to Sharice and ger able attorneys.

The bottom line is that knowledgeable attorneys can help victims of car and truck accidents while in the course of their employment realize greater economic recoveries.

Robert V. Clark
Maryland Car Accident and Personal Injury Lawyer
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