Can I Have a Personal Injury Claim and a Workers' Compensation Claim From the Same Accident?
A question that we often get here at Cook, Bradford & Levy, LLC, is “if I was injured on the job and have a workers’ compensation claim, can I also have a personal injury claim?” As with most legal questions, the short answer is yes, in some – but not all cases – it is possible to have both a workers’ compensation claim and a personal injury claim arising from the same accident. We will elaborate more below. If you have been injured on the job in Colorado and are wondering if you also have a personal injury claim, we invite you to reach out to our Longmont accident lawyers at 303-543-1000 for a free consultation about your case and whether we can help you.The Long Answer: When BOTH a Workers’ Compensation Claim and a Personal Injury Claim are OK
Workers’ compensation laws in Colorado and most states were established so that employees were not able to sue their employers for accidents that happened on the job. As such, when an employee is injured on the job in Colorado, the employer is notified, and the injured employee can elect to receive treatment at no cost through Colorado’s workers’ compensation system.
A huge exception exists when an employee is on the job and is hurt by someone outside the control of the employer, however. Our experienced Longmont accident lawyers see this a lot when our clients are driving a car or truck as part of their job duties and are hit and injured by a negligent or careless driver. In the legal world we refer to a negligent person outside the employer’s control as a negligent 3rd Party. In Colorado, as with other states, if your on the job injuries were caused by a negligent 3rd party you can file a personal injury claim against that person or business (or both). In other words, in the 3rd party context you can have both a personal injury claim and a workers’ compensation claim.
Some common examples of on the job injuries caused by 3rd party negligence that our Longmont accident lawyers see here at Cook, Bradford & Levy, LLC include:
- Car and truck accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
- accidents while on business trips
- drunk-driving accidents
- distracted driving accidents
- and many more
A good Longmont accident attorney will tell you that when you have both a workers’ compensation case and a personal injury case arising from the same accident, you have two parallel tracks: one in the workers’ compensation world and one in the personal injury world. Generally speaking, workers’ compensation cases only allow you to recover damages for your past and future medical expenses and injuries impacting your ability to work. If your injuries are substantial, we suggest that you hire a Colorado workers’ compensation attorney to guide you through that process.
On the other hand, a good Longmont accident lawyer knows that personal injury cases are much larger in scope than workers’ compensation cases, because you can recover a wider range of damages – not just those that are related to medical bills and your ability to work. Indeed, in a personal injury case you can get compensation from the negligent 3rd party for:
- Past and future medical bills
- past and future wage loss
- lost earning capacity
- emotional damages like pain and suffering
- physical impairment to your body
- out of pocket expenses
- and others
With a personal injury case where a workers’ comp claim has been made, your case looks very similar to a pure personal injury case: the accident happens, you work with your medical providers to get better, once you get better we make a claim with the negligent 3rd party’s insurance company, and resolve your claim either with or without filing a lawsuit.
The main difference in a dual workers compensation’ / personal injury claim is that at the end of your personal injury case you will need to pay back the workers’ compensation carrier (Pinnacol is Colorado’s largest workers’ comp insurance carrier) the money they spent for the medical care you received through Colorado’s workers’ compensation system. This is called “addressing the workers’ compensation lien” and will be covered in more detail in a later article. Nonetheless, a skilled Longmont accident attorney knows how to negotiate with the workers’ comp carrier to reduce the amount you owe to them and put the most money possible in your pocket after your personal injury case is over.
Additionally, at Cook, Bradford & Levy, LLC, if your case needs to be presented to a jury, our Longmont trial lawyers understand cutting edge Colorado law on the topic an can present your case in a way that allows you to show the jury the full amount of your damages during your trial – not just what the workers’ compensation system paid your doctors.If You Have Been Hurt on the Job Call Us Today!
At Cook, Bradford & Levy, LLC, our Longmont accident lawyers understand the ins and outs of how to bring a personal injury case if you have been injured on the job and are also pursuing workers’ compensation. If you have been seriously hurt on the job and have questions about what to do, call us today at 303-543-1000 for a free consultation with our Lafayette-based lawyers.