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Obtaining workers' compensation benefits after a car accident

Residents of Maryland often wonder if they can receive workers' compensation benefits for injuries sustained in an auto accident. The answer to this question depends, as do most workers compensation questions, upon the circumstances of the accident.

All workers' compensation benefits questions depend upon how the following questions are answered.

The first question is whether the injured person was, in fact, an employee. An employee is a worker whose hours, duties and place of work are controlled by another party. The party exercising these controls is the employer. If the employee is in a valid employee/employer relationship, the worker can seek benefits from the employer's workers compensation insurer.

The next question concerns the circumstances of the accident. Did the injury arise out of the employment? In other words, was the employee engaged in carrying out the duties of his or her employment when the accident occurred?

If the employee was injured in an automobile accident while driving a company vehicle, the answer is very obvious. If as occasionally happens, the employee was using a personally-owned vehicle, the reasons why the employee was using such a vehicle must be examined. If the employee normally used a personal vehicle to carry out one or more employee duties, the accident will be viewed as arising out of the employment.

Perhaps, the most important question is whether the injury arose in "the course of the employment." For example, a person using a company vehicle to drive home at the end of the day may simply be taking advantage of a courtesy extended by the employer. If the employee was instructed to make a pick-up or delivery while driving the company vehicle, the accident will most likely be judged as having arising out of the course of employment.

If the questions outlined above are answerable in the affirmative, the employee will most likely be deemed eligible for benefits. Unfortunately, not every workplace accident yields such clear answers to these common coverage questions. The assistance of an experienced workers' compensation attorney may be necessary to recover all benefits that may be owed under the workers' compensation statute.

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