Coming and Going
There are many professions that require employees to drive while on the job — construction workers, taxi-cab drivers, food delivery persons, and many more — which inevitably exposes these workers to the risk of a motor vehicle accident. In fact, a significant percentage of workers’ compensation claims in Maryland involve employees driving during the course of their employment.
Many people believe that if they are at fault for an auto accident that occurs while performing a work-related task then they have no legal recourse. While it’s true that the at-fault driver cannot bring a claim against the other driver or drivers involved in an accident, they may still file a workers’ compensation claim. However, Maryland’s “coming and going” rule states that a driver cannot file a workers’ compensation claim if they are driving to or from work, or if they are performing a function unrelated to their work duties while on company time. That said, the “special mission” exception to this rule may apply if the employee is injured performing a work-related task after hours as part of their employment duties.
Three Types of Claims
In Maryland, employees who are injured in car accidents that occur while performing work functions potentially have three separate but related claims: personal injury protection (PIP), “third-party” liability, and workers’ compensation. Regardless of whether the accident occurred while driving a company or personal vehicle, if it occurred while you were conducting company business, you have the right to file a workers’ compensation claim — however, you also have the right to file a standard personal injury protection claim and a third-party liability claim.
Coordinating and filing three separate claims can be confusing, so your best course of action after contacting the police and receiving medical treatment, is to contact a skilled and experienced workers’ compensation attorney. In Maryland, certain procedures must be followed in order to ensure eligible status for PIP, third-party liability, and workers’ compensation claims.
Due to complex legal statutes and differing timelines for each type of claim, it’s important to focus on the workers’ compensation claim first while simultaneously remaining active and informed regarding the other two claims. Remember that in most cases, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims in Maryland is three years, so be proactive whenever and wherever possible to ensure that you file your personal injury claim on time.
The Need for Representation
The complexities involved in resolving three separate claims are difficult to overstate. For instance, the Maryland insurance code states that when a PIP claim is made prior to a workers’ compensation claim, the plaintiff is not required to repay PIP benefits. However, if you settle your third-party liability claim first, it’s unlikely that you will be able to file a workers’ compensation claim. Additionally, workers’ compensation insurance carriers are eligible to receive a portion of third-party benefits after attorney fees have been deducted. In general, an experienced attorney is the best person to help you understand the complicated ways in which multiple claims can affect each other.
After resolving your workers’ compensation case, the insurance company automatically enacts a “lien” against third-party recovery. This means that they have filed a claim to be reimbursed for any expenses they made on your behalf, with the repayment coming out of the proceeds from your personal injury litigation. It’s imperative that injured employees contact an attorney with workers’ compensation experience for help with this process, as an attorney can help negotiate with your workers’ compensation insurer to achieve an optimal split of any liability settlement.
Additionally, you should not under any circumstances speak to an insurance adjuster before consulting with an attorney. Insurance adjusters are employed by the insurance company to look out for the company’s interest and not yours — no matter how friendly or well-intentioned their efforts seem. Eventually you will be required to speak with them, but you should consult an attorney first and have legal representation present when you do so.
Contact the Pinder Plotkin Legal Team
As you can see, the legal process regarding auto accidents occurring during the course of employment involves complicated procedures and claims that seem to overlap at times. At Pinder Plotkin, our attorneys have significant experience in dealing with these complex issues and have litigated hundreds of successful recoveries — both through settlements and at trial — on behalf of our clients. Because of our experience with all aspects of these types of claims, we frequently receive and are actively seeking referrals from other firms regarding injuries that occur while driving during the course of employment.
If you or someone you know have suffered injuries as a result of an accident that occurred during the course of your employment, please call the offices of the Pinder Plotkin Legal Team today at (410) 661-9440, or visit our website to learn more about our firm and your legal recourse. We offer free consultations and will pursue your claim professionally and aggressively with your best interests in mind.
The information provided in this website/blog is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.