January 31, 2017

What If I’m Hurt on the Job but off the Clock?

Filed under: General — Casper & Casper @ 1:29 am

Workers’ compensation seems pretty simple on the surface: an employer pays for workers’ compensation to cover its employees’ work-related injuries, regardless of who was at fault. In return for this coverage, the employee is not permitted to sue the employer to pay for the injury. Instead, the employee makes a claim through the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance and is paid for his or her medical bills.

Does workers compensation cover my injury if I'm off the clock?

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple at all. Read on to learn the rules applied to determine whether or not an injury is covered by workers’ compensation.

The Work-related Rule

In order for an injury to be covered by workers’ compensation, several criteria have to be met. One of these is that the injury be work-related. That means that the employee was injured in the course of his or her employment (while the employee was performing the duties of his or her job).

If a construction worker drops a hammer on his foot while working at a construction site, this is a fairly clear-cut case of a work-related injury. If the same construction worker drops a hammer on his foot while hanging up a picture frame at home, he cannot make a workers’ compensation claim.

In many other cases, however, determining whether an injury was “work-related” can be tricky. Often, it is up to the court—making a decision based on the arguments of the attorneys involved—to decide whether an injury counts as work-related.

Take the example of an employee who gets into a car accident while on his or her way to work. You might think that any injuries sustained in the car accident are work-related (after all, the injured person was driving to work); however, in Ohio, accidents to and from work are not often covered by workers’ compensation. This is called the “going or coming” rule, which states that workers’ compensation doesn’t apply until the employee arrives at his or her workplace. Still, there are some exceptions to this rule. If the employee was injured in a car accident while traveling on a business trip, he or she would be covered. If an employee is injured while running an errand for his or her employer, he or she may be covered.

Another common injury is one that occurs while on the employee’s lunch break. Say that an employee trips and breaks an ankle while walking to a nearby restaurant for lunch. This injury wouldn’t be covered by workers’ compensation. However, if the employee had been walking to the restaurant to pick up lunch for everyone in the office, he or she might be covered. Similarly, if the employee sprains an ankle while in the employee cafeteria located on company premises, it’s possible that the injury will be covered.

Other potentially work-related injuries include those sustained while at a company picnic, retreat, or even a team-building softball tournament.

The On the Clock Rule

Another criterion that is important to workers’ compensation claims is whether the employee was “on the clock.”

Like the work-related requirement, the on-the-clock rule is not always straightforward. It does not mean that injuries are covered only if they happened during business hours or a scheduled shift. If an employee visits the office after business hours and injures himself, he would not be covered. However, if his boss knew of and approved the visit, the employee may have a claim. Further, in the examples given above, the employees that were traveling for work or getting lunch for the office were not “on the clock” in the traditional sense, but their actions were still done in the course of their employment—making it possible that their injuries would be covered by workers’ compensation.

If all this seems confusing, we understand. It can be extremely difficult—particularly when you are injured—to navigate the maze of rules, regulations, and exceptions involved in workers’ compensation law.

If you have been injured on the job, we strongly recommend contacting an attorney for advice. A good workers’ compensation attorney will determine if you have a claim, explain the process, and walk you through the steps. Having an attorney will also make it more likely that your claim is accepted and that your settlement is fair.

The attorneys at Casper & Casper have years of experience handling every aspect of workers’ compensation claims. Our attorneys are caring, dedicated professionals who will work with you beginning to end, from compiling your medical records to representing you at your workers’ compensation hearing. We want you to get the compensation you need and deserve.

Let us take care of your claim so that you can focus on getting better. Call us today at 1-800-784-2889 for a free consultation.

Sources:
- NOLO
- Insurance Information Institute

January 20, 2017

Do I Need Uninsured Motor Coverage?

Filed under: General — Casper & Casper @ 10:46 pm

Getting into a car accident is an awful experience to begin with—but when the other driver is uninsured or simply drives off, it becomes even worse.

in case of a car accident - do you need uninsured motorist insurance?

We hope this never happens to you, but unfortunately, uninsured driver accidents are common. According to the latest data from the Insurance Information Council, 12.6 percent of drivers (about 1 in 8) are uninsured throughout the country.

Since 1953, Ohio has required all drivers to have auto insurance, yet the rate of insured drivers is among the worst in the nation. Ohio is not one of the top ten states in terms of the percentage of uninsured motorists; however, it has the country’s fourth-highest number of uninsured drivers because of Ohio’s large population. There are about 1.3 million uninsured drivers throughout the state.

Worse still, according to the State Highway Patrol, they are more likely to be at fault for accidents. The latest data from 2015 from the State Highway Patrol shows that uninsured motorists were at fault 67 percent of the time in accidents involving other vehicles. (This statistic doesn’t include hit-and-runs or damage to parked cars, which means that percentage could be even higher.)

Typically, after a car accident, the person at fault is the one whose insurance pays for damages. If you get in a car accident with an uninsured driver, you need to have automobile insurance to cover your property damage and any injuries. In cases where the other driver doesn’t have insurance, you will be on the hook for all damages and medical bills arising from the accident. That means you’ll have to pay your car insurance deductible and may also have to pay for your medical bills. While you can try to take the other driver to court to pay the expenses, this can be a difficult and futile process: most people who do not have car insurance also do not have lots of money to pay you. (You can’t draw blood from a stone, so to speak.) In addition, there is cap on the damages you can seek in small claims court not to mention the inconvenience of having to take time off from work or your life to plead your case and then to enforce any judgment.

What can you do to protect yourself? The first thing you can do is drive defensively. We promise that getting to your destination quickly is not worth the potential injury and damage of a car accident. Drive the speed limit, put your cell phone away, and act cautiously—particularly if other drivers around you are driving erratically and seem not to be paying attention. The second thing you can do is purchase uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage (UM) and underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage (UIM) insurance, uninsured motorist property damage coverage (UMPD), and underinsured motorist property damage (UIMPD) coverage. Below, we explain what each covers and why you need it.

Uninsured Motorist (UM) Bodily Injury Coverage: If you are in a car accident with an uninsured driver who is at fault, this type of coverage will pay for your medical bills (as well as those of any passengers in the car), lost wages, pain and suffering, and permanent disability. Keep in mind that you will only be covered up to the limit of the insurance you carry, so talk to your agent about what coverage level is most appropriate for you. This coverage may also apply if you are injured in a hit-and-run accident or if you are hit by an uninsured driver while you are a pedestrian.

Underinsured Motorist (UIM) Bodily Injury Coverage: This type of coverage will pay for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering if the amounts exceed what the at fault person carriers for automobile liability coverage. In Ohio, the legal amount of liability insurance is $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. With the cost of medical services today, $25,000 will not cover very much medical treatment.

If you carry UM or UIM coverage, make sure you carry more than the legal limit. Have at least $50,000 per person, or more, if you can afford it. You will be limited to the amount of insurance in effect on the day of the accident.

Uninsured Motorist Property Damage (UMPD) Coverage: This type of coverage will pay for the damage to your vehicle or damage to personal items. In addition, make sure you have these types of coverage:

  • GAP insurance coverage – This is a must if you have a loan on your vehicle. GAP insurance coverage covers the “gap” between what you owe on the car and what it is actually worth.
  • Replacement vehicle coverage – In Ohio, your car will not be replaced, unless you have some type of specific replacement coverage.
  • Rental car coverage – If the at fault person has no auto insurance, you will not get a rental car unless you have rental car insurance on your own policy.

When you purchase car insurance, ask what happens if the at fault person has no insurance. Tell your agent you want all of the coverage needed to protect yourself and any passengers, and discuss what policy additions you will need to make that happen.

Underinsured Motorist (UIM) Coverage: Every state requires all drivers to have car insurance, but the minimum amount of insurance coverage varies wildly. Even if the other driver has insurance, it may not be enough to cover your property damage.

In Ohio, the minimum amount of bodily injury coverage is $25,000 per person in the car and $50,000 total per accident. The minimum amount of property damage is $25,000. If you or your passengers have medical bills that cost more than $50,000 (and we all know how expensive health care is) or property damage costs of more than $25,000, you may have to pay the difference. The other driver would be responsible for the costs, but you may never see the money from him or her.

UIM coverage can help with those overflow costs.

It is not fair that responsible motorists who purchase insurance should have to pay even more in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, but it is a reality if you are driving in Ohio. Many people do not have auto insurance and are not held responsible for their actions. Protect yourself, your family, and your passengers.

We recommend that you get some type of uninsured and underinsured bodily injury motorist coverage and uninsured and underinsured property damage coverage.

In Ohio, this type of coverage is not required by the state, and it’s not automatically added to your policy. You have to ask for it. Contact your insurance company to add uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage for both bodily injury and for property damage to your policy. You need to have protection from the thousands of uninsured and underinsured drivers on the road today.

If you’ve been injured in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver and have questions, we can help you. The Cincinnati, Ohio, personal injury attorneys at Casper & Casper have years of experience dealing with situations just like these.

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