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Workers’ Compensation versus Uninsured Motorists provisions: which one applies?

2012-11-04 12.59.31A 2011 accident involving a tree-trimming crew resulted in the death of one worker and injuries to another. The Kentucky Court of Appeals recently ruled on a lawsuit concerning the accident after it was appealed from Warren County Circuit Court in Bowling Green, Kentucky. You can read the Kentucky Court of Appeals ruling in the case here: http://opinions.kycourts.net/coa/2013-CA-000078.pdf

The accident involved three men: James Coleman, Davison Crocker, and Dale Cherry, all of whom were employed by A&G Tree Service, Inc., which is located in Leitchfield, Kentucky. In August 2011, they were sent to a job site in Tennessee, and traveled together to the job site in a company vehicle. On the way back, an accident occurred that took the life of Cherry and injured Crocker. The employment handbook for A&G indicates that their employees are considered to be at work once they arrive at the site where their work is to occur. The workers may use company vehicles for their convenience and carpooling is permitted.

After the accident, Crocker received workers’ compensation benefits, and Cherry’s estate received workers’ compensation death benefits. Crocker sued Coleman and his personal insurance carrier, Progressive Casualty Insurance Company, arguing that Coleman’s negligent driving had caused the accident. Progressive argued that workers’ compensation should be the sole source of benefits for Coleman and Cherry’s estate, but Crocker argued that the men were not on the clock, so tort relief was also possible.

The Warren County Circuit Court did not agree. Kentucky law says that the either an employee may recover workers’ compensation benefits, if in fact their injury occurred while the employee was on the job, or the worker may recover tort damages if the employee was not on the clock at the time of the injury or damages, but the person may not recover both.

Also, the Kentucky Court of Appeals agreed with the Warren County Circuit Court that neither Cherry’s estate or Crocker should receive any Uninsured or Underinsured Motorists benefits from Progressive because they are not entitled to any kind of benefits from Coleman.

Employees who operate vehicles for work purposes may become involved in an accident. After this happens, it can be difficult to recover from injuries or the devastating loss of a co-worker while also handling insurance and workers’ compensation paperwork. If you need assistance handling these matters, consider hiring an attorney to help you discern how to proceed. We can take the difficult and time-consuming work of insurance paperwork off of your hands and ensure that you aren’t signing away your rights to compensation.

If you need the assistance of an attorney, contact our experienced lawyers. You can reach us at (270) 781-6500 or contact us through our online form here.

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