Do you have to drive for your work, or does your employment description involve running errands, transporting equipment, or visiting off-site places? Envision yourself out-and-about performing functions as an employee, taking care of your tasks proficiently, when you are involved in an automobile accident due to no fault of your own. This accident is not just a minor “fender-bender” but causes you to suffer serious injuries.
Typically, Utah Worker’s Compensation Act is an exclusive remedy for any injuries or losses suffered. At the same time, on the job, illnesses were sustained due to employment or death caused or contributed to by your work. Given this, employees are prohibited from suing their employer if they are receiving Worker’s Compensation benefits.
Utah and Worker’s Compensation
There are exceptions to the exclusivity of the Utah Workers’ Compensation Act. These include (1) injury caused by a willful or intentional tortious act of an employer or another employee, or (2) your employer failing to comply with the state employer insurance requirements. Horvath v. Savage Mfg., Inc., 18 F. Supp. 2d 1296 (D. Utah 1998). This exception also pertains to automobile accidents involving the negligence of a third party. In this situation, you would be able to file a claim against the liable party’s insurance company. You may also be able to file for Worker’s Compensation benefits.
Utah Code Ann. § 34A-2-106 stands for the proposition that if an injury or death is caused by the act of a third party, or person, other than the victim’s employer, that individual may seek benefits from the employer and maintain a separate action against the third party or person that may have caused or contributed to the accident or injuries. In this situation, if a personal injury settlement is obtained against a third party, compensation would need to be addressed for the Worker’s Compensation benefits that were received.
Employee Duties with Employer Liability
Likewise, if you are driving for your employer, are within the course of scope of your employment duties, and happen to cause an accident, it is more probable than not that the insurance company for your employer will be liable for claims and damages. Indeed, I have seen many cases involving these questions to be highly litigated and contested. As such, I will not endeavor to begin a discussion involving these complex legal issues. Instead, I am merely stating your actions or negligence could lead to a liability claim against your employer.