If you are injured while in the course and scope of your employment while driving, and the accident wasn’t your fault, your case is more complicated than the usual work injury case. I urge you to consult with a knowledgeable attorney so that you do not lose important rights and sources of recovery available to you.
Not all personal injury attorneys are knowledgeable about Nevada’s workers’ compensation law. If the driver who caused the accident has only a minimal liability policy of $15,000, your workers’ compensation benefits may be even more important to you than your personal injury attorney realizes. Also, because the workers’ compensation insurer who pays for medical or compensation benefits on your claim is entitled to share in any recovery against the person who is at fault for the accident, your lawyer will be important in negotiating who gets what portion of any settlement monies. You may find that you need both a workers’ compensation attorney in addition to a personal injury attorney to make sure that you are getting all benefits and monetary damages available to you. Here are some important questions to ask any attorney you meet before you decide who will be representing you:
- Will the attorney be representing you on your workers’ compensation claim, or just on your personal injury claim against the driver who hit you? Workers’ compensation law has a different court system to decide disputed issues with insurers, and is based on laws passed by the Nevada legislature. Personal injury cases are decided under tort law, based on traditional common law and statutory law. While most personal injury cases involving moderate damages are decided by arbitration or by short trials in front of fewer than twelve jurors, personal injury law is very different than workers’ compensation law, even if the same injury is involved.
- If you only hire a personal injury attorney and try to handle your workers’ compensation claim yourself, is your personal injury attorney aware that under Nevada workers’ compensation law, you must see only doctors on your insurer’s provider list? When the adverse driver’s liability policy limits are low, you don’t want to unnecessarily pay for medical treatment on a lien basis from your portion of a personal injury settlement if you can medical treatment under your workers’ comp claim.
- Has the attorney asked you about what other motor vehicle policies might have coverage available to compensate you?
- Does your personal injury attorney use a subrogation lien agreement to address what offsets the workers’ compensation insurer will assert after your personal injury case is settled, both on an open workers’ compensation claim and in the event the claim is reopened?
- Resist "making friends" with the adverse driver’s insurance adjuster who may contact you before you hire an attorney. Their job is to pay the least amount possible. Do not give recorded statements, and do not agree to settle your claim without the help of an attorney who knows that the industrial insurer’s subrogation lien must also be paid or negotiated.