If you are in a motor vehicle accident in Maryland while on the job, you have two potential claims: a workers’ compensation claim and a “third party” claim. Ultimately, this is a good thing for you because you have two viable claims instead of just one.
Workers’ Compensation Auto Accident Claim
If your job functions require you to travel in your car beyond coming to and from work, and you are injured in a car crash, you likely have a workers’ compensation claim. This is true whether or not you are at fault for the crash. It is important to get your mind around this because too many people fail to bring a claim because they assume you cannot bring any claim if you are at-fault for the collision. This is true, obviously, with respect to a claim against the other driver. But you can still bring a workers’ comp claim.
Maryland law also allows for a “special mission” exception to the “coming and going to work” under which the employer may be liable for injuries under workers’ comp if an employee is injured while commuting to or from an “extra, after hours duty. The special mission exception applies “even if the journey is one that is to or from the workplace”. An essential characteristic of a special mission under Maryland law is that “it would not have been undertaken except for the obligation of employment.”
First Party Claim
The civil tort system completely ignores the fact that you have a workers’ compensation claim. The court only asks two questions: (1) who caused the accident? and, (2) if there were injuries, how much compensation must be awarded? That is it. The jury is not told that you made a workers’ compensation claim or that you receive payments. Maryland’s collateral source rule in prohibits the defendant driver in a motor vehicle injury claims from introducing evidence that the plaintiff has or will recover his medical expenses or portions of her lost income from any other source, including workers’ compensation.
But there has to be a catch. There is. The workers’ compensation insurance carrier has a right to be paid back – minus any attorneys’ fee incurred in getting their money back. There is no choice: Maryland law requires attorneys to either pay back the amount owned or put the money into escrow if there is a dispute over how much should be paid back. That is the bad news. The good news is that we have had a lot of success getting the insurance companies to substantially reduce the amount of their liens in many cases.
- What is the settlement value of your workers’ comp claim in Maryland?
- What is the settlement value of your auto tort claim?
- We talk here about differences between a workers comp case and a personal injury case? As we have been saying, it in a car accident case, you often have both a comp claim and a personal injury claim.
So it is even worthwhile to bring a workers’ compensation case if you have an auto accident that is not your fault? You can waive your comp rights and focus on the civil negligence claim. Sometimes this makes sense. But in any type of serious injury case – the only type of case we handle – you are generally still better served to bring both claims.
Keep one thing in mind: if you settle the civil liability claim first, you may well be waiving your rights to bring a comp claim down the road unless your deal with the comp carrier is extremely clear. Too many inexperienced lawyers drop the ball on this and it leads to disaster.
What to Do If You Need a Maryland Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
If you have a Maryland workers’ compensation claim, call us today at 800-553-8082 or click here for a free no obligation consultation.