Police offers, firefighters, paramedics and other emergency responders put their likes at risk every day on the job. Inevitably, these first responders get hurt while on the job. In Texas, emergency responders have the right to recover money from their worker's compensation insurance to pay for the medical bills they incurred as a result of the wreck.
Unfortunately, worker's compensation doesn't always cover all the damages sustained in an accident. If a police officer, firefighter or other first responder is hurt in an accident while on the job and their worker's comp insurance doesn't cover everything, they can recover additional compensation by making a personal injury claim.
A personal injury claim is a separate claim made against a person (or a company) who contributed to the accident.
Can You File a Claim Against Multiple Policies?
Yes, and I'd encourage you to do so. If you're hurt in an accident on the job, then of course you should make a worker's compensation claim. However, making a worker's comp claim doesn't bar you from making additional claims through other types of insurance (though many people think it does!).
When Can Emergency Responders Make a Personal Injury Claim?
In order to make a personal injury claim (in addition to your worker's comp claim), a few things must apply:
1) There must be a separate party at-fault for your accident. For example, if an on-duty police officer is pulled to the side of the road and a careless driver crashes into their squad car, the officer could file a claim against the negligent driver (and their insurance policy).
2) There must be an injury to file a personal injury claim, and the injury must have been caused by the accident.
3) The at-fault party (for instance, the careless driver in our example above) must have insurance. If the at-fault party doesn't have insurance, a separate claim can still be made but it gets more complicated and I'd advise you to consult with a personal injury attorney).
If these three pieces are in place, then you will be able to file an additional claim.
The Benefits of Filing Multiple Claims
The main benefit is that it allows the injured worker to recover more money (meaning it's less likely they'll have to pay for anything out of pocket).
Worker's compensation doesn't fully compensate workers who are hurt on the job. For example, I handle a lot of cases where workers are hurt and must take time off work to recover. Under Texas law, you're allowed to recoup wages that you lost due to an accident by filing an insurance claim. However, worker's comp doesn't cover workers for 100% of missed wages.
When you file a separate personal injury claim, however, you're increasing the odds that you WILL win enough money to cover these costs 100%.
Do You Need an Attorney?
Not every accident case warrants hiring a lawyer. However, if you're not sure if it's safe to handle your case on your own, read my helpful article on How to Know If You Need to Hire a Personal Injury Attorney.
Not every accidental injury suffered at work will permit a supplementary claim for damages to occur, but many will. In order to find out whether you may be entitled to recover compensation, you can also call the Anderson Law Firm for a free consultation.
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