Worker Compensation Settlement for an Auto Mechanic...

Personal Injury Case Study

This worker compensation settlement deals with an employee covering another worker's shift on his day off. Do workers comp benefits still apply? We'll discuss the relevant legal issues including damages, liability, settlement negotiations, and the final case resolution.

The Incident...

Larry worked as a mechanic in a local garage for the past 20 years. He had never been injured and only took a few days off in all his years of employment. His employer treated him very well – like one of the family.

One day, Larry offered to come to work for young Joe who had been called away to witness the birth of his first child. It was the least Larry could do and he was happy to do it.

On this day, while working underneath a car, the vehicle fell on him crushing his body with the under-carriage. He screamed in pain and it took three employees to get the vehicle off of him. The equipment was operating properly and none of his fellow employees in the garage were negligent in any way.


The owner of the garage indicated that Larry was not covered by workers compensation because he was volunteering to work for Joe on the day of the accident. He refused to submit a claim and asked instead if he could just pay for Larry's medical bills. However this was not proper under the law.

The state within which Larry lived was a compulsory state meaning that employers were required to carry workers compensation for their employees.

Additionally, the fact that Larry was working for Joe did not make the applicable workers compensation policy null and void. Larry did not agree to volunteer, rather he agreed to work for Joe and any accident that occurred while he was working would be covered by workers compensation.


Larry's injuries were substantial including 4 broken ribs and a crushed lung. He had to be rushed to the hospital by ambulance where he underwent surgery for 5 hours.

He was evaluated by the workers compensation doctor 6 weeks after his surgery where it was determined that he was 80% disabled. He also had to undergo 5 months of physical therapy in order to recover from the extensive damage to his back that occurred when he was crushed by the vehicle.


The workers comp insurance adjuster realized that Larry was covered notwithstanding the fact that he was merely filling in for another employee. As previously stated, workers compensation is not avoided simply because one employee worked for another.

Larry hired an attorney to assist him in negotiating a worker compensation settlement. Workers comp settlements are based exclusively on rating of disability and your annual salary. Larry earned $30,000 a year as a mechanic and was rated at 80% disability which is considered permanent.

He was offered a settlement of either $240,000 as a total lump sum or $130,000 with life-time medical payments. He was also offered an additional $20,000 in punitive damages because his employer refused to submit a claim.

Final Settlement...

Larry accepted the settlement of $240,000 and was permitted to retire from the garage where he worked. With the money he received from his worker compensation settlement, he was able to live comfortably without worrying about his finances. He also applied for social security disability which paid him an additional $640 per month.

Important Points...

  • Any time an employer refuses to submit a claim or in some way violates the laws related to workers compensation, the plaintiff is entitled to punitive damages.

  • Worker compensation settlements are based upon a statutory scheme that matches the annual income of the plaintiff with the percentage of disability to derive a settlement figure.

  • Worker compensation settlements are either a global, one-time amount or a lesser amount with the option of payment of life-time medical expenses.

  • Workers comp applies even if you are filling in for a co-worker.

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