Sometimes I am asked:
  • Can Caltrans workers sue if a car hits them?
  • Can road workers file personal injury claims if they are injured while working?
  • What if I am injured by a car in a work zone/construction area?

If you are injured on the job by a negligent driver, contact me today. I am experienced accident attorney who works one on one with my client and has helped them recover millions for their injuries.

Caltrans employees might not be confined to workers’ compensation law

The general rule is that workers’ compensation benefits are an injured employee’s sole and exclusive remedy when he or she is injured by an anticipated and foreseeable risk of his or her employment. The injured employee can’t sue their employer in an actual court of law for an injury that was sustained in an accident at work. An exception to this rule arises when that employee is injured as a result of the negligence of somebody who wasn’t a co-worker.

Put the general rule and exception in the context of a Caltrans employee who was performing maintenance on a guardrail on a state highway. He’s working 15 feet in front of a Caltrans truck when a tractor-trailer clips the truck. The force of impact propels the Caltrans truck forward, and it strikes the Caltrans employee who was working on the guardrail.

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Workers’ compensation benefits

According to this California Workers’ Compensation Lawyer, The Caltrans worker is severely injured and given the circumstances, he’s eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Those benefits consist of:

  • Reasonable and necessary medical care
  • Temporary total disability benefits while recovering from his injuries
  • Permanent partial disability benefits
  • Vocational training to work in a new field

What comes to issue is the fact that the Caltrans worker is unlikely to receive sufficient workers’ compensation benefits to cover all of his medical bills and lost earnings along with the noneconomic damages he incurred like pain and suffering and loss of a normal life. He might have a chance of recovering these damages in a case against the negligent trucker though.

Third party liability

Because the injuries suffered by the Caltrans worker weren’t caused by his employer or a co-worker, California law allows him to bring an actual negligence case for damages against the negligent trucker and his employer. In workers’ compensation law, that’s what’s known as a third party liability case. In order to obtain a judgment against the negligent trucker and his employer, the injured Caltrans worker must prove that:

  • The trucker owed him a duty of care
  • The trucker breached that duty
  • The breach of that duty caused the Caltrans worker to be injured
  • The Caltrans worker suffered legally recognized damages

If the Caltrans worker is able to prove each one of those elements, he can seek compensation for economic damages like past and future medical bills and past and future lost earnings while also seeking noneconomic damages like pain and suffering and loss of a normal life. He’s permitted to bring the third party lawsuit at the same time that he’s receiving workers’ compensation benefits. The workers’ compensation case is brought in the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board while the third party case is brought in a civil court like any other motor vehicle accident case.

No fault liability vs. the law of negligence

Liability attaches in a workers’ compensation case regardless of whether the injured worker injured himself or herself through his or her own negligence. In a third party case, the law of comparative negligence can be raised as a partial defense. Any percentage of negligence attributable to the claimant is deducted from the gross award. For example, if the injured person is awarded $100,000, but he or she was determined to be 30 percent at fault for the accident, the gross award would be reduced down to $70,000.

Two recoveries for the same injury?

The law doesn’t allow two recoveries for the same injury. Because the Caltrans worker is bringing both a workers’ compensation case and a civil lawsuit, his employer has the right to claim a lien on any proceeds derived from the case against the trucker and his employer. This issue can become particularly complicated if an injured worker settles their civil case while he or she continues to receive medical benefits from their workers’ compensation claim.

Any workers’ compensation claim should be investigated a for possible third party case that can be brought at the same time as the workers’ compensation claim. Although a double recovery for the injured worker is highly unlikely, he or she might have a better result in a court of law as opposed to the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board.

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Allen Vaysberg Los Angeles Auto Accident Lawyer

Caltrans workers injured often

September 1, 2016 marked the 185th fatality of a Caltrans employee when he was hit by a tanker truck in Acton CA. Speeding drivers, texting drivers, and others who aren’t watching where they are going injure Caltrans employees while they try and patch up the 5, 10, 110, 405 and other freeways in Southern California and Los Angeles that we all use every day.
If you or a loved one is injured on the job in Los Angeles or Southern California contact me today for a free, friendly, confidential consultation.