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How Does A Workers’ Compensation Claim Affect Your NJ Car Accident Lawsuit?

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NJ car accidents happen every day.  Some auto accidents happen while the injured driver is working, such as an employee who gets into an accident while driving a tractor trailer, UPS or Fed Ex delivery truck.

Generally speaking, when a New Jersey driver is hurt and needs medical treatment after a motor vehicle accident, his own medical benefits coverage (PIP) in his car insurance policy pays for the medical expenses regardless of who caused the accident.

However, when a driver is injured in a motor vehicle accident while working, i.e., while driving a UPS delivery truck or going to a bank to make a business deposit, the injured employee/driver’s car insurance company does not pay for the medical expenses related to the accident.  Rather, the driver’s employer is responsible for the medical expenses through the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance coverage.

Related FAQ: I was driving my car in NJ to make a delivery to a customer. I was t-boned at an intersection and the other driver was at fault. Do both my car insurance and workers’ compensation pay for my medical expenses?

When workers’ compensation pays for medical expenses after a NJ motor vehicle accident, and the injured employee/driver succeeds in a lawsuit against the at fault driver, the injured employee/driver is required to pay back the medical expenses paid by workers’ compensation. In addition, the injured employee will be required to pay back any workers’ compensation payments for temporary or permanent disability (i.e., lost wages after the auto accident).

How is Workers’ Compensation Paid Back?

Under NJ workers’ compensation law, if an employee is injured while at work, his medical expenses and lost wages are covered by the employer’s workers’ compensation carrier.

For example, a UPS driver delivering packages in Cherry Hill, NJ is injured in a car-truck accident that was caused by another driver. The driver needs medical treatment because he is injured; he would file a workers’ compensation claim because the accident happened while he was working. Therefore, medical expenses related to the car-truck accident would be covered by workers’ compensation.  However, the injured employee can only seek treatment from doctors approved by workers’ comp.  In addition, if the driver cannot work for 1 month, he would also receive a percentage of his lost wages as part of his workers’ comp claim.

Like all other motor vehicle lawsuits in NJ, the UPS driver’s ability to receive financial compensation for pain and suffering in the car accident lawsuit is governed by his “threshold” status in his personal car insurance policy.  A driver with “verbal threshold” cannot sue for his pain and suffering unless his injuries fall under statutory exceptions.  See New Jersey Car Accidents & Verbal Threshold – Can Injured Car Accident Victims Recover Damages?

Using the above example, the UPS driver’s injuries are serious, and he sues the at fault driver.  He recovers $100,000 from the lawsuit.  Worker’s compensation paid $20,000 of his medical expenses and $1,000 of his lost wages.

In this scenario, the UPS driver must pay back the money the workers’ compensation carrier paid on his behalf. This is called a lien. However, the UPS driver does not have to pay the entire $21,000.  Rather, the amount of the lien is reduced by 33 1/3% pursuant to NJ workers’ compensation law.  In addition, NJ law requires that the lien also be reduced by $750, the amount of the workers’ compensation carrier’s fair share of the costs of litigation. Therefore, the $21,000 lien is reduced by 33 1/3%, which reduces the lien to $14,000, minus $750 of litigation expenses. The injured UPS worker would pay the workers’ compensation carrier $13,250 from his settlement.

A NJ Car Accident Injury Lawyer Can Help if You were Injured in a Car Accident While Working

NJ car accident law can be very confusing.  Throwing in a NJ workers’ compensation claim for a motor vehicle accident makes it even more complicated.  If you were injured in a truck or car accident while working, Philip T. Ciprietti, a NJ personal injury lawyer, can help.  Mr. Ciprietti has been helping injured car accident victims for over 35 years. Call today for a FREE consultation.  800.281.8695

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