If you are hurt in a car crash while working in Kentucky, your rights are a little bit different from a normal car crash. Here’s a few pointers concerning Workers’ Comp that you need to know:
Kentucky has a modified no-fault system for car crash victims. This system provides for $10,000.00 (typically) in no-fault or PIP benefits that can be used to pay medical expenses, lost wages, and some other expenses.
However, if you were on the job (or doing an errand for your employer), your employer’s work comp carrier will pick up the entire cost of your medical treatment. It’s important to note that you can’t be fired, harassed, or coerced for filing a work comp claim.
What happens to those PIP benefits in a car crash that occurs at work? They are still available, but are typically used to pay you additional money for time off from work (see #2, below).
2. Work Comp will pay 2/3 of your average weekly wage for any time you are off work. Your auto insurance picks up the remaining lost wages, up to 85% or $200/week, whichever is higher.
The work comp laws provide that you are entitled to 2/3 of your average weekly wage (up to a set maximum) while you are off work. What a lot of people hurt on the job in a car crash don’t know, is that in Kentucky, PIP benefits (the no-fault benefits you have on your car) kick in to cover up to 85% or $200 per week, whichever is higher.
This means that if you were making $500 a week, you get roughly $333 a week from work comp. However, with PIP, you are entitled to about another $92 a week. When you’ve been injured in an accident, that extra income becomes very important.
3. The Work Comp insurance carrier will offer you a settlement based on your permanent impairment rating, your average weekly wage and your ability to return to work.
Work Comp is a “no-fault” system. Settlements are guided by your permanent impairment rating and your average weekly wage. You don’t get anything for pain and suffering. This means that at the end of your case, if you haven’t hired a lawyer, the Work Comp carrier will send you to one of their doctors, who will say you didn’t suffer a significant injury, didn’t suffer an injury at all, or if you did suffer an injury, it was due to something other than the car crash you were in.
A work comp attorney can send you to another doctor, who will say you were injured, and are entitled to benefits. This “battle of the doctors” is a necessary step to achieve a fair result for employers and injured workers. If you don’t get to see a doctor you’ve chosen to evaluate your permanent impairment, you are likely missing out on substantial benefits.
4. In addition to Work Comp benefits, you may be able to receive money from the at-fault driver’s automobile insurance. This recovery will be based primarily on your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Unlike work comp, a typical car crash claim works if the person who hit you is “at-fault.” This means that the person breached a statute (ran a red light, crossed the center-line) or didn’t keep their eyes on the road.
If the other person was “at-fault”, you can recover (in addition to Work Comp) from their insurance company. This company will only pay if they believe their driver was “at-fault”. In Kentucky, it doesn’t matter if the person who is hurt is also “at-fault” – so long as you can say the other driver did something wrong, you can recover something from their insurance carrier.
Unlike a work comp settlement, a personal injury settlement is based primarily on medical bills (you don’t have to pay these – Work Comp does if you are hurt on the job), lost wages and pain and suffering.
5. If the at-fault driver doesn’t have enough insurance or doesn’t have insurance, you may also be able to collect from your automobile insurance company or your employer’s automobile insurance company.
“But what happens if the other guy didn’t have insurance, or didn’t have enough insurance?”
Then, you can potentially recover from two sources: (1) your insurance company; (2) your employer’s insurance company.
When you buy insurance in Kentucky, your insurance agent should offer you “underinsured motorist coverage” (UIM) and “uninsured motorist coverage” (UM). If they don’t, or if you ask them about it and they don’t tell you you need it, find another insurance agent.
This insurance can cover you if you are in a work accident in your own vehicle, and in certain other situations.
Additionally, your employer may have UIM/UM coverage through what’s called a “fleet policy.” This coverage is in addition to work comp benefits.
6. The Work Comp insurance carrier can only get reimbursed from money you received from the at-fault driver’s insurance company or the at-fault driver. They can’t touch your UM/UIM benefits.
One of the big concerns people have is that if they file a work comp claim and file an injury claim against the other driver, is that they think the work comp carrier will “take” all the available money.
This isn’t the case. First of all, the work comp carrier only gets to be paid back the amount of the benefits they’ve paid on the case, less attorneys’ fees and expenses.
Secondly, work comp can’t get anything from UIM or UM benefits in Kentucky. So, it is always in your best interest to assert a UIM or UM claim when you are hurt at work while driving.
7. In Kentucky, your insurance premiums cannot be raised solely due to you being in an accident that isn’t your fault.
Probably the biggest question we get is “Will my insurance carrier increase my rates if I file a UIM/UM claim? In Kentucky, this is illegal. KRS 304.20-045 provides that “o insurer shall increase the premium on an automobile liability insurance policy solely as a result of a claim for an automobile accident filed by an insured if the insured was not at fault.”
This means that if you didn’t cause the accident, they can’t raise your rates without violating the law.