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Ask An Attorney

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I have been working on and off as a local ranch hand and was in a car wreck near the ranch where I work. I can't pay all of my medical bills. Can I file a worker's compensation claim or is the other driver responsible for my medical bills?

There are several options at this individual's disposal, which I can briefly address. From what we know so far, this individual could possibly make three different insurance claims to pay for his medical bills.

-Worker's compensation.
-Other driver.
-No-fault benefits with the insurance company of the vehicle in which he was operating.

Can you again briefly explain how the no-fault process works?

Yes, North Dakota is in the minority of states that have no-fault auto insurance laws.
Your own insurer pays regardless of fault.

-File claim against negligent driver's insurance company.
-And finally, there still is the possibility of a worker's compensation claim.

You mentioned there may be some issues with the worker's compensation claim, however; can you explain those?

There are three things that may prevent this individual from receiving any type of worker's compensation benefits.

-Independent contractor v. employee.
-Injured during the course and scope of work.
-Exclusion for agricultural services.

I know this individual referred to the position as a "ranch hand" but it would be prudent to know whether or not this individual was doing any type or work more directly related to agricultural services.

Other than agricultural-related jobs, are there any other types of employment not covered by worker's compensation?

There are a few. Most notably are for employees of religious organizations and common carrier railroads.

Can this individual or anyone else hold an employer responsible for injuries?

Only in two limited circumstances.

First, an employee can sue an employer who commits some intentional act with the conscious purpose of inflicting an injury upon the employee.

Second, an injured employee can sue an employer for injuries if the employer has neglected to secure worker's compensation insurance through the state of North Dakota.

-Prohibition on affirmative defenses.

-Civil penalties and criminal charges.

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