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What Happens When You’re Injured In Another State?

by | Oct 15, 2014 | Legal

Many clients that come into our office don’t realize that a different state law could apply to their workers’ compensation case, even though they are citizens of Nebraska. In legal terms this is called dual jurisdiction. So why does it matter? It matters because the benefits you could be entitled to vary greatly from one state to another.

State of Workers Compensation Case

Types of Cases With Choice of Law Issues

In many workers’ compensation cases, it is clear which state’s law’s apply. For instance a Nebraska worker injured in Nebraska clearly falls under the Nebraska workers compensation laws. However, there are certain types of claims that are more likely to have disputes. Truck drivers, delivery persons, or other employees who are required to travel often for their job are more likely to have issues in their workers’ compensation case regarding choice of law issues. In a recent tragic work accident in Nebraska, a camera operator for the television show Cops was shot and killed while filming for the program. This workers’ compensation wrongful death case will likely have a dispute or negotiation about which state’s laws apply. Although the injury took place in Nebraska, the employer was a California company.

Council Bluffs, Iowa v. Omaha, Nebraska Workers’ Comp Cases

In our Omaha, Nebraska workers’ compensation legal practice, we often see this issue arise concerning Omaha and Council Bluffs. These two cities share a border, and both employ a great number of residents of their neighboring state. Many Omaha workers can be injured in Council Bluffs while in the course of their employment, but aren’t aware that Iowa law could apply to their accident. The state where your workers’ compensation case is heard can affect everything from your ability to choose your own physician to the monetary amount you can recover in your case. The difference can be significant.

Don’t Let the Insurance Company Tell You What State’s Laws Apply

It’s not unlikely for us to see a client come into our office with a letter from their insurance company that says, “Your accident falls under Nebraska law,” or some other state’s law. It is important to remember that the insurance company is not a judge, and they are also not your advocate. They do not have the right to decide which state your case falls under. That is for the laws and for the court to determine. If your insurance company is trying to say that your case falls under a specific state’s jurisdiction in order to reduce the benefits available to you through state laws that favor the insurance company, you can challenge this and argue that another state’s laws apply.

In summary, choice of law issues are often very complex. Whatever your situation is, make sure you don’t allow the insurance company to bully you into filing your claim in the state they want your claim to be heard in. If you think there might be any question as to which state’s laws apply to your case, you should speak to an attorney. Our office is available to help answer any questions you have.