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Do I Have a Personal Injury Claim for a Car Accident That Occurred During Work?

Auto accidents at work are quite common. Work related auto accidents can create some confusing insurance issues due to the limitations on worker personal injury claims under the New Mexico Workers’ Compensation Act.

Auto accidents are a fact of life.  Work is no exception.  They happen all the time in work settings.  The circumstances will dictate whether or not you have a personal injury claim for injuries suffered in the accident.

To begin, the New Mexico Workers’ Compensation Act’s exclusive remedy provision means that a worker is severely limited in bringing claims against the employer for work related injuries.  In short, there is a very narrow exception to the exclusive remedy provision called the Delgado exception.  This exception is extremely rare even barring cases involving gross negligence on the part of the employer.

Personal Injury Claims that Occur During Work Against Other Drivers

Identifying available insurance is critical to fair compensation. There are numerous possible source of insurance that should be examined.
In cases involving car accidents, there are a couple of possible avenues for recovery of damages for your personal injuries.  First, an auto accident is an auto accident.  If the other driver caused the accident, then you will have a claim against that driver just like any other person injured in a car accident.  The fact that you are working has no bearing on your rights to recovery against the other driver and his insurance.

Similarly, like any other auto accident, you may bring a claim against your own uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.   Again, it does not matter that you were on the job at the time of the accident.  Your uninsured and underinsured coverage will follow you wherever you may be driving.  In New Mexico, this is extremely important due to the very high rate of uninsured and underinsured drivers in the state.  In short, if you are involved in an auto accident in New Mexico, there is a very good chance that the other driver will be grossly underinsured, if he or she has any coverage at all.

Personal Injury Claim that Occur During Work and Your Employer’s Auto Insurance

This brings us to the more interesting point which is whether you can bring claims against your employer’s auto insurance.  The answer is yes, you can bring a claim against your employer’s uninsured and underinsured policies.  However, this presumes that your employer has not waived this coverage, which for some odd reason some employers do.  The coverage is relatively inexpensive, so it is pure penny pinching to waive the coverage thereby putting your employees at unnecessary risk of financial ruin.

Keep in mind that any claims brought against the uninsured and underinsured coverage of the employer is strictly an insurance claim.  It is not a personal injury claim.  In other words, there is no allegation of negligence on the part of the employer, which is required in a personal injury claim.  Any such claim of negligence would fall on deaf ears in any event due to the Workers’ Compensation exclusive remedy provisions.

Instead, the claim is strictly against the employer’s uninsured and underinsured coverage.  Therefore, it is very important to determine whether the employer has the coverage and policy limits on such coverage.

Stacking Insurance Coverage for Car Accidents that Occurred During Work

In New Mexico, the other driver is likely to be uninsured or underinsured. Your underinsured coverage will likely be very important. Fortunately, in New Mexico, the laws on underinsured coverage are very consumer friendly including the allowance of stacking.
Finally, this determination gets to another important point which is the stacking of coverage.  This issue must be addressed in your own personal uninsured and underinsured coverage as well as that of your employer.  Stacking allows you to combine the uninsured and underinsured coverage of numerous vehicles under the same policy.  For example, if you have 5 vehicles, each with $25,000 in uninsured and underinsured coverage, your total coverage would be $125,000.  The same holds true for the employer’s policies

Like all auto accidents, the recovery of damages is largely dictated by the insurance that is available.  So if you are injured in a work related car accident, then the first challenge is to identify all possible coverage.  Though you are limited by the exclusive remedy provisions of the Workers’ Compensation Act, there are other ways to achieve recovery for your injuries and damages.

Auto insurance issues can be confusing in the best of circumstances. The issues can be particularly challenging in work related auto accidents. An experienced attorney can help your work through them.

Auto Insurance Issues Confusing – An Experienced Auto Accident Attorney Can Help

Auto insurance issues can often be confusing.  This is particularly so in the case of work related auto accidents due to the New Mexico Workers’ Compensation Act’s exclusive remedy provisions and the interplay of underinsured coverage and the issues that come with it.

The personal injury attorneys at Collins & Collins, P.C. have extensive experience and knowledge of auto insurance issues and can help you sort through them so that you can be as fully and fairly compensated for your injuries as possible.

Collins & Collins, P.C. can be reached at (505) 242-5958.