Navigating Massachusetts roads is a daily necessity for many workers including delivery drivers, tractor-trailer operators, truck drivers, shipping companies, sales representatives, home healthcare providers, and field service technicians. When these individuals are involved in accidents during the course of their employment, serious injuries can occur and understanding their legal rights becomes paramount, especially in relation to workers’ compensation benefits and third party claims against the at-fault driver.
When does Workers’ Compensation Apply in a Car Crash?
In Massachusetts, if you’re involved in an car accident during the course of your employment, you’re entitled to workers’ compensation benefits which is governed by Mass. General Laws c.152. Navigating the complexities of motor vehicle accidents during the course of your employment can be complex, with specific limitations and nuances to WC coverage.
Typically, accidents during your regular commute to and from work are not considered work-related, a principle known as ‘the Going and Coming Rule‘. In contrast, if your job duties involve driving, such as delivery drivers or tractor-trailer drivers, any accident you encounter falls under the purview of workers’ compensation. Additionally, exceptions to ‘the Going and Coming Rule’ exist depending on specific circumstances, for example:
- a worker sent on a special errand
- a worker transitioning between job duties or traveling to the next job site (like home health care workers)
In these scenarios the driving employee is covered by workers compensation.
Personal injury protection (PIP) benefits under conventional Massachusetts vehicle insurance doesn’t apply in work-related motor vehicle accidents, workers’ compensation steps in, covering medical bills for reasonable medical care, a percent of your weekly earnings (lost income), and in the case of serious injuries, compensation for scarring, disfigurement, and job retraining. Similar to PIP benefits, Workers’ Compensation benefits are applicable regardless of fault. However, workers compensation doesn’t provide compensation for pain and suffering.
Third-Party Claim Against the Negligent Driver
Whether the accident occurred in Boston, MA, or any other city in Massachusetts, if the accident resulted from another driver’s negligence, you’re positioned to assert both a workers’ compensation claim and a personal injury claim against the at-fault party, potentially broadening your channels for securing fair compensation. This is referred to as a third-party claim. A third-party negligence claim can open the door for compensation not available under Workers’ Compensation, such as full reimbursement for lost wages, medical costs, as well as pain and suffering damages.
Steps to take after you’ve been in a motor vehicle accident
If you’re involved in a motor vehicle accident during the course of your employment in Massachusetts, it’s crucial to take certain steps to safeguard your legal rights and ensure fair compensation for any property damage, lost income, and medical expenses incurred.
- First, call law enforcement to the scene of the accident to file a police report, a vital step in documenting the event and the extent of any serious injuries.
- It’s also important to seek immediate medical attention, even if injuries aren’t immediately apparent, as some car accident injuries can manifest later. This not only prioritizes your health but also provides a record of medical treatment, critical for a workers’ compensation claim or personal injury claim.
- Next, gather contact and insurance information from the at-fault driver and any witnesses, and take pictures of the accident scene if you can. This documentation can be crucial when dealing with insurance companies or if you decide to pursue legal action.
- Inform your own insurance company about the traffic accident, and seek legal advice. Remember, Massachusetts law and the statute of limitations can affect your claim, so it’s wise to consult with a personal injury lawyer who understands the legal process and can guide you through a potential claim.
Lastly, consider scheduling a free consultation with Gavagan Law. Our proficiency in Massachusetts law, coupled with our comprehensive understanding of workers’ compensation and third-party claims, empowers us to ensure you receive the full spectrum of benefits and compensation to which you’re entitled. We’ll help you navigate the complexities of your case, advise you on dealing with insurance companies, and ensure you receive the benefits and financial compensation you’re entitled to.