The terms of employment may help determine if a car accident will lead to Maryland Workers Compensation benefits.
Whether or not a car accident will lead to Maryland workers compensation benefits is a complicated question that is best answered by a qualified Workers Compensation attorney only after an in person interview is conducted. Many factors should be considered including terms of employment, location of accident, and circumstances of the accident.
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- If an employee is paid by their employer to travel then the accident may be covered under workers compensation. Ordinarily this could mean being paid mileage, being reimbursed for parking, reimbursement for tolls, and or payment of parking fees. While reimbursement of travel expenses are not conclusive as to the validity of a Maryland workers compensation case they can be useful when arguing the case should be covered.
- When a company car is provided to an employee there is a strong argument that the auto accident should be covered under workers comp. By providing a company car the employer is recognizing that the use of the car is necessary for the employee to carry out their job duties. If the employee is leaving their house and going to work then the case can be quite strong and may lead to substantial workers compensation benefits under law. If however, the employee is using the car for strictly personal use the argument for benefits weakens. There are plenty of cases that have been deemed compensible by the workers compensation commission that involve a person using a company car for personal use. In fact, police who use the patrol cruiser off hours are often awarded Maryland workers compensation benefits.
- While the employee being on the clock or “punched in” is not a deciding factor it is a strong indication that the employee is entitled to the compensation benefits provided by Maryland law. If the employee was on the clock then he was working. The defense would have a burden to argue otherwise.
- If an employee is working while using their car then they are likely entitled to workers comp benefits. Unfortunately determining if the employee is “working” can be more difficult then one may think. There are cases that clearly indicate the employee was working. For instance:
a truck driver involved in a accident while on I95;
a home care nurse traveling from one house to another, or
a trade mechanic such as a HVAC or plummer traveling from one call to another.
Truck Drivers see further reading here.
The location of the auto accident may shed some light on whether a Maryland workers compensation claim should be filed
- For an auto accident to lead to Maryland workers compensation benefits the location matters. If the accident does not occur in Maryland, and the employer or the employee have NO ties to Maryland then the case will not be covered. If however the employer is based in Maryland but the accident occurred in another state then the auto accident may lead to a valid workers comp case. Also, if the employee lives in Maryland, works in Maryland, and was injured in Maryland the case will likely not be barred by jurisdictional restraints.
- Another consideration is the route of travel the employee was taking. For Maryland workers compensation benefits to be due the employee must have been relatively close to the expected route of travel when the accident occurred. An employee must use the expected and reasonable route of travel to the destination of employ. If they travel to the same location almost every day but choose to travel way out of the expected course then they may have compromised their right to benefits.
- Maryland workers compensation laws recognize a principal referred to as Frolic and Detour. This relates to the expected route of travel but also the purpose of the trip. If at the time of the accident the employee was going far “out of the way” to run a personal errand then they may not be entitled to Maryland workers compensation benefits. If however they were only taking a minor detour such as pulling off to get lunch then benefits may be due.
Circumstances of the car accident will help determine if it is covered under Maryland workers compensation.
- There are a number of considerations to keep in mind when evaluating a case for workers compensation purposes. The best option is to consult an attorney for a free consultation. Some of the circumstantial considerations the attorney will look for are below.
- Was the employee engaged in willful misconduct. This may include being under the influence of a drug or alcohol, or intentionally causing the accident.
- Fortunately under Maryland law if the employee was negligent in causing the accident this will not bar them from recovering workers compensation benefits.
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