The recent snowstorm that blew through Massachusetts reminds us that winter is far from over. Winter driving hazards are still a major concern. Many workers are injured each year in car accidents on their way to or from work, during their lunch hours, while traveling for work and while running errands for an employer. If you are injured in a car accident while doing any of these things, are you eligible for Massachusetts workers’ compensation benefits? The answer is not a simple “yes” or “no”.
The Scope of Employment
For an employer to be held liable for injuries caused in any type of accident, the injuries must have occurred while the employee was “within the scope of employment.” The precise definition of this phrase has been argued and litigated by scholars, attorneys and courts for many years.
Courts tend to look at two things to determine whether an employee was “within the scope of employment” for purposes of workers’ compensation. First, they look at what the worker was actually doing at the time of the accident. Was it something that was clearly within the employee’s job description? Was it something the employee had done before for the employer? Was it something the employer should reasonably have foreseen that the employee would be doing? The second prong of the test looks at whether the activity in which the worker was engaged was in furtherance of the employer’s business. In other words, did the employer stand to gain by what the employee was doing?
A Workers’ Compensation Attorney Can Review Your Case
As you can see, determining whether a car accident occurred while the employee was in the scope of employment is not always easy. In some cases it is clear. For example, if the employee’s job was to deliver pizzas and she was involved in an accident while delivering a pizza, then she was clearly within the scope of employment; however, if she took a particularly dangerous route, was speeding or driving recklessly or did something else unorthodox during the trip, the employer could argue that she was not within the scope of employment when the collision occurred. Likewise, although it may seem that an employee would clearly not be within the scope of employment if a car accident occurred during his lunch hour, that may not be the case if his employer had asked him to pick up something for the office while he was out.
Whether injuries sustained in a car accident are compensable under Massachusetts workers’ compensation laws depends on the unique facts and circumstances surrounding the accident. Only an experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney can review those facts and circumstances and advise you about your legal options. Contact the workplace injury lawyers at Kantrovitz & Associates, P.C., can be reached by calling 800-367-0871 or by using our online contact form.