Typically when you are hurt on the job, your only recourse against your employer is under the Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act. See La. R.S. 23:1031. You cannot typically sue your employer for tort damages like pain and suffering when you are hurt on the job. See La. R.S. 23:1032. Your only remedy against your employer is for indemnity benefits (wage benefits) and medical benefits, including prescriptions and mileage to and from the doctor. Id.
But when you are hurt on the job as a result of the negligence of a third party—i.e., someone that is not your employer or coworker—you can bring a negligence claim against the third party in tort.
For example, if while working you are in a car accident caused by a third party, you can make a negligence claim against the third party and her insurer. Furthermore, you can also make a claim for UM coverage against your employer’s automobile insurer, if (1) you were injured in your employer’s vehicle, and (2) your employer purchased UM on its automotive insurance policy. This is because your employer’s UM is considered a third party. See Johnson v. Fireman’s Fund Insur. Co., et. al., 425 So. 2d 224, 226-227 (La. 1983).
Suing your employer’s UM insurer does not violate Louisiana’s exclusivity provision of La. R.S. 23:1032, which states that the only remedy against the employer for an accident is under the Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act, because the tort claim is being brought against your employer’s UM as a third party, not against the employer itself. The UM carrier becomes obligated to pay you the same damages that the third party is obligated to pay you because that is what the UM policy is written to do. See Hoefly v. Government Employee’s Insur. Co., 418 So. 2d 575 (La. 1982).
Keep in mind that you can still make a workers’ compensation claim against your employer for the accident in addition to making a claim on its UM policy. Furthermore, you can also make a claim against your own UM if you were in your employer’s vehicle at the time of the accident, if you purchased UM coverage on your personal automotive insurance policy. I have written a previous article describing when you can make claims on multiple UM policies in Louisiana.
If you have suffered injury from an automobile accident while in your employer’s vehicle or have other questions about workers’ compensation and UM claims, contact Law Office of Donald D’Aunoy Jr., LLC today for a FREE consultation: 1000 Veterans Blvd #203, Metairie, LA 70005, Phone: 504-508-6414. Speak directly with an attorney. Attorney Donald D’Aunoy Jr. offers FREE house calls to personal injury clients throughout southeast Louisiana, including Algiers, Amite, Avondale, Barataria, Belle Chasse, Bogalusa, Boutte, Bridge City, Chalmette, Covington, Crown Point, Cut Off, Destrehan, Edgard, Franklinton, Galliano, Gretna, Hammond, Harahan, Harvey, Houma, Jefferson, Kenner, Lafitte, Laplace, Lacombe, Larose, Luling, Lutcher, Madisonville, Mandeville, Marrero, Marrero, Morgan City, Montegut, New Orleans, Nine Mile Point, Norco, Patterson, Pearl River, Ponchatoula, Prairieville, Raceland, River Ridge, Slidell, St. Rose, Thibodaux, Tickfaw, Waggaman, Westwego. Mr. D’Aunoy is well reviewed on sites such as Avvo and Facebook.