Given the attention that is given to major truck accidents, the public would probably be surprised at how frequently the driver of passenger vehicles are at fault for the accident. Of course, professional truck drivers wouldn’t.
Regardless of who is at fault for an accident between a semi and a passenger vehicle, if you are hurt as a result of the accident, you are eligible to receive worker’s compensation benefits.
If the other driver was at fault, you also have the right to pursue a civil case in addition to your worker’s compensation case, but you should keep in mind that the interaction between the two is complex and is the kind of thing that you should get the help of a well-qualified lawyer.
But the thing about the civil case is this –
Most drivers of passenger vehicles carry a relatively small amount of liability insurance. For most drivers it’s $100,000 or less. And the brutal truth is that the worst drivers (the kind that cause accidents with tractor trailers) tend to carry the state minimum which may be as little as $15,000 in some states.
One way that worker’s compensation cases interact with civil lawsuits is that without going into too much detail, you need to pay back the worker’s compensation insurance carrier the money they paid out in benefits from the money you get out of the civil lawsuit. This means that the civil case needs to generate a significant amount of money for the civil case to put money back into your pocket, which can be difficult if the at-fault driver has the state minimum.
However, there is one additional way to get a driver injured in a crash with a passenger vehicle the full compensation he deserves.
A surprising number of trucks carry not just the required liability insurance, but also have underinsured motorist coverage on their vehicles. This is a coverage which makes up the difference between what the at-fault driver has in coverage and what you are entitled to receive in compensation after a crash with a passenger vehicle.
It is something that most people, including many lawyers, miss. I’ll give you an example of how that played out in practice for one of my clients:
He was driving a load across the country when he was rear-ended in stop-and-go traffic on the expressway in Chicago. The at-fault driver had $25,000 in coverage. The driver ended up with serious neck problems which required extended medical care including injections. The driver’s insurance company paid its $25,000 limits and this would have been the end of it for our cliengt because his company did not have worker’s comp coverage. However, it did have underinsured coverage on its vehicle. We made a claim through the underinsured policy on the client’s vehicle and we eventually settled the whole case for $150,000.
That was a $125,000 difference to our client.
Pursuing a claim for underinsured motorist benefits is technically complex, and we recommend getting the help of a well-qualified lawyer to assist you with this.
If you have a current worker’s compensation issue which you need help on, please feel free to reach out to our office by calling us at 312-263-1080 to discuss your issues and what options you have. There is no obligation to hire our law firm, and there is no charge for the call.
I hope this has been helpful, and if you know anyone who can benefit from this kind of information, please feel free to share this information.
We are here to help truck drivers after an on-the-job accident. Knowledge is power, and the first step in protecting your rights is to know what they are.