Workers’ Compensation and No-Fault Ramifications When you are Involved in an Automobile Accident while in the Course of Your Employment
If you operate a vehicle in the course of your employment and are involved in an accident you are entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits. In addition to Workers’ Compensation, you may also be entitled to No-Fault insurance benefits. Driving in the course of your employment can involve a number of situations, including driving a vehicle owned by your employer or driving your own vehicle while working. It can be a semi-tractor trailer or a company car. The relationship between Workers’ Compensation and No-Fault insurance is complex, which is why it is important to speak with an attorney experienced in this area of the law.
Lost Wage Benefits
- Workers Compensation:
Let’s say you are employed by a moving company and drive a panel truck. While on your way to deliver a customer’s furniture you are struck by another vehicle. You unfortunately suffer a fractured femur and are forced to miss a few months of work. Workers’ Compensation claimants who are totally or partially disabled and unable to work for more than seven days are eligible to receive cash benefits. The amount that a worker receives is based on his/her average weekly wage for the previous year. The following formula is used to calculate benefits:
2/3 x average weekly wage x % of disability = weekly benefit
Therefore, a claimant who was earning $400 per week and is totally (100%) disabled would receive $266.67 per week. A partially disabled claimant (50%) would receive $133.34 per week. The weekly benefit cannot exceed dollar maximums, which are based on the date of accident: Currently, if your accident occurred between July 1, 2013 – June 30, 2014 the weekly benefit cannot exceed $803.21.
For some workers, 2/3 of their weekly wages will exceed $803.21, leaving them in even greater financial distress. Many attorneys fail to recognize that No-Fault insurance benefits may be available to make up the difference.
- Supplemental No-Fault Benefits:
Generally, when the accident occurs in the course of your employment, No-Fault benefits are secondary to any Workers’ Compensation benefits that the worker is entitled to. However, supplemental No-Fault benefits may be available to those workers whose wages exceed the Workers Compensation maximum. New York No-Fault Insurance benefits provide persons injured in motor vehicle accidents up to 80% of their lost wages. The practical application of this difference in benefits is that the No-Fault carrier will make up the difference between the 2/3 you receive from Workers’ Compensation and the 80% of your lost wages the no-fault carrier is obligated to pay.
For Example: Andrew is a salesman who drives his company car to meet customers. He is injured in a motor vehicle accident and misses a few months of work. Andrew is 100% disabled and earns an average weekly wage of $2,000. The following formula is used to calculate Andrew’s benefits under the Workers’ Compensation and No-Fault laws:
- Workers’ Compensation Benefits: 2/3 x $2,000 x 100% = $1,333 (weekly benefit)
- No-Fault Benefits: $2,000 x .8 = $1,600 (80% of weekly wages)
- $1,600 – $1,333 = $267 (difference between 2/3 of WC benefits and 80% NF benefits)
Andrew is entitled to receive an extra $267 per week in supplemental No-Fault benefits.
Medical Benefits under Workers Compensation and No-Fault
If a lawsuit results from your accident, New York State No-Fault insurance is obligated to pay the first $50,000 of medical care to treat your injury. While your medical benefits will be covered by insurance – either through Workers’ Compensation or No-Fault – the difference in payment may have a significant impact on the outcome of your lawsuit. Generally, at the conclusion of your case, you will be required to pay a portion of your Workers’ Compensation benefits back to the carrier in the form of a lien; however, this is not the case with motor vehicle accidents. The first $50,000 in Workers’ Compensation benefits paid for injuries arising from a motor vehicle accident are exempt from liens. The law makes sure people are not punished just because they were involved in a car accident in the course of their employment. Any Workers’ Compensation medical benefits paid above the first $50,000 may be subject to a lien. No-Fault insurance carriers are not entitled to a lien on your recovery. Every dollar that a lien is reduced is one full dollar in your pocket because liens are not subject to attorneys’ fees.
At Hach & Rose, LLP, we are particularly adept at handling the complex relationship between the Workers’ Compensation laws and the No-Fault laws. We represent many professional drivers such as Teamsters members who get injured in the course of their employment. If you were injured in any type of motor vehicle accident, call Hach & Rose, LLP for a free consultation.