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Workers’ Compensation vs. Third Party Negligence
Maryland weather on March 14, 2015 consisted of steady rain and melting snow. Visibility on the roads was reduced. Such driving conditions often lead to automobile accidents during the heavy travel hours of the day. For those individuals who are injured in an auto accident as a result of someone else’s negligence, and who were also on the job at the time of the accident, navigating the legal issues created by the accident can be difficult.
An on-the-job auto accident creates two separate claims in the state of Maryland. One claim is a workers’ compensation claim. The other claim is a negligence claim against the at fault driver – commonly referred to as a “third party claim.” It is very important to have a good understanding of both types of claims, as they interrelated. Mishandling either of the two claims can lead to a loss of benefits for the injured worker.
Another important issue relates to the automobile coverage of the vehicle in which the injured worker was traveling. Even though the injured worker was not at fault for the accident, he or she may be entitled to personal injury protection (PIP) benefits under the insurance policy covering his or her vehicle at the time of the accident. PIP benefits do not depend upon who is at fault for the accident. These benefits cover medical expenses and a percentage of lost wages up to a maximum amount set forth on the Declarations page of the auto insurance policy. Under most circumstances, PIP benefits should be exhausted by the injured worker before a claim is made with the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission.
The workers’ compensation claim begins with the filing of an Employee Claim Form, a procedure that can be done either in writing or electronically. Under Maryland’s Workers’ Compensation Act, an injured worker may be entitled to both indemnity (monetary) benefits and medical payment benefits. If the worker’s injuries are so severe that he or she is not able to return to the job, then workers’ comp also provides for vocational rehabilitation benefits. Vocational rehabilitation usually consists of job search assistance, although in some circumstances retraining may be provided as well.
The third party claim is made against the auto insurance policy covering the negligent, or at-fault, driver. Unlike workers’ compensation, no money is paid under the third party claim until the entire claim is resolved either by way of settlement or judgment. Importantly, if the workers’ comp insurance carrier has paid benefits prior to resolving the third party claim, then the comp carrier has a lien against the proceeds of the third party claim. The lien is created under Maryland law with the purpose of prohibiting the injured worker from receiving full recoveries under two different claims as a result of just one accident – a practice commonly referred to as “double dipping.”
If you have been injured in an automobile accident in Maryland, whether while on the job or not, please consider calling the attorneys at Jenkins, Block and Associates at 1-800-243-7122. Our attorneys are experienced in handling both workers’ compensation and personal injury accidents. Also, consultations are free.