When a Car Accident is Also a Work Accident

This past August, there was a fatal worksite accident at the Stone Brewing Co. in Escondido, CA. Police reported that a forklift overturned and landed on its driver. The driver was taken to Palomar Medical Center but later died from his injuries. When a vehicle accident happens at work, there are different legal rights and options than when a vehicle accident occurs outside of the workplace.

Third-party lawsuits

While you cannot file a claim against your employer for pain and suffering or other noneconomic losses, you have the right to assert a bodily injury claim through the insurers of any other vehicles involved in the accident. You can bring a separate lawsuit against the drivers and owners of the vehicles involved. These lawsuits are most often called third-party actions. Damages that can be sought under a third-party action include:

  • Unreimbursed medical costs and lost earnings
  • Out-of-pocket expenses
  • Past and future pain and suffering
  • Property damage

If a defective motor vehicle part contributed to your accident, another possible third-party action could be brought against the manufacturer of the part.

A note on recovering damages for economic losses through the workers’ compensation system

In any work-related accident, the injured employee is entitled to workers’ compensation insurance benefits. An auto accident that occurs while on the job is no exception. Workers’ compensation benefits must be provided, even if the employer was not at fault in causing the accident. If the employer is responsible for the accident, the injured employee must seek benefits through the workers’ compensation system and is precluded from filing a separate lawsuit against an employer or fellow employee. (There are a few exceptions.)

While our firm does not handle workers’ compensation claims, we can provide assistance filing a third-party lawsuit if you have been injured in a car accident. Our goal is to help you get the benefits and compensation to which you are entitled by law if you were injured in a motor vehicle accident while at work.

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