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What are your rights after a truck or auto accident on the job?

Readers of this blog probably know that if you are injured in an auto accident caused by a negligent driver, you have the right to sue that driver for damages. But what happens if you are in a car accident while you are driving on the job?

Lots of Texas residents are on the road as part of their job duties every day. If you are injured in a work-related truck or auto accident, you have the right to recover workers' compensation benefits. This right is not just available to truck drivers, bus drivers and other professional drivers, either. If your employer sends you on a work-related errand and you have an accident, you can generally recover workers' compensation. Workers' compensation generally does not apply to accidents that happen while you are commuting to or from work, however.

Workers' compensation benefits are available even if you were at fault, and even if your employer was not at fault. If the accident was caused by another driver's negligence, you have the right to sue that driver for damages, in addition to filing for workers' compensation benefits. This type of lawsuit is known as a third-party lawsuit. In a third-party lawsuit against a negligent driver, you can recover damages which are not available under workers' compensation, such as pain and suffering damages.

If you collect workers' compensation and also sue a negligent driver, the workers' compensation insurance carrier has a right to be reimbursed, out of the recovery from the negligent driver, for the workers' compensation benefits it paid to you. This is known as the insurance carrier's right of subrogation. If you recover more from the negligent driver than you received in workers' compensation benefits, you are entitled to all the funds remaining after the insurance company is reimbursed.

Source: Texas Labor Code ch. 417, accessed Nov. 2, 2014

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