Every month, a reader asks one of our sponsor legal experts about a work-related issue. These building trades law professionals respond in an Organized Labor exclusive. This month’s expert is David L. Winnett of The Veen Firm.
I was severely injured when I was rear-ended while running an errand for my boss on my way home from work the other night. I’m afraid I may never be able to work again. Am I entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for my injuries? If I do receive workers’ compensation benefits, will I be prevented from suing the other driver?
Ordinarily, pursuant to the “Going and Coming Rule,” an employee is not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if he or she is injured while driving to or from work. However, there have been several circumstances where employees injured while commuting to or from work were awarded workers’ compensation benefits. Those circumstances involved situations where the employer received some benefit – even an incidental benefit - from the employee’s use of his or her personal vehicle. Thus, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation coverage for your injuries, if your boss knew or expected that you would have to use your personal vehicle for the errand he asked you to run for him.
Even more importantly, however, the fact that you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits does not necessarily prevent you from suing the driver who injured you. Although the workers’ compensation system is designed to provide necessary medical treatment and disability benefits to injured workers, it does not provide an injured worker with a full and complete recovery of emotional distress, pain and suffering and other similar damages suffered by an injured worker and his or her family. Those types of damages are only available in a lawsuit against the negligent driver.
You should consult a civil attorney as soon as possible to explore the availability of workers’ compensation benefits and the possibility that you may also bring a civil lawsuit against the driver who injured you. There are important deadlines for both types of proceedings, so you should act quickly to protect your rights.
-David L. Winnett, Attorney; The Veen Firm, PC“Interaction via “Ask the Expert” does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Any advice given is neither legal advice nor does it serve as a replacement for hiring an attorney. In addition, any case results mentioned or discussed are not guarantees of similar results.”
This Month's Expert; David L. Winnett
David L. Winnett is a trial attorney representing catastrophically injured plaintiffs. Having joined The Veen Firm's Peters Trial Team in 2014, Mr. Winnett brings invaluable experience from his previous work on behalf of defendants. He was a partner at the defense firm Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP where he practiced for 13 years and tried cases involving employment matters, personal injuries and professional malpractice.