Can Maryland Car Accident Victims File a Third-Party Injury Claim After Receiving Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

If an individual is acting within the scope of their employment when they are injured in a Maryland car accident, they may receive workers’ compensation benefits for their injuries. Generally, if a worker receives workers’ compensation benefits by way of Maryland’s Workers’ Compensation Act, they cannot seek damages through a civil lawsuit from their employer. That rule, known as the exclusivity rule, was put in place so that workers would receive benefits solely through workers’ compensation, allowing them to receive benefits quickly while limiting employers’ liability. However, injured accident victims can file a Maryland injury claim against a third party under Maryland law based on their negligent conduct.

Under Maryland law, a co-employee is generally considered a third party. In the event that an injured worker or an employer receives compensation through a third-party injury claim, the employer may be able to receive reimbursement for the workers’ compensation paid to the injured worker.

In a recent decision before one state’s supreme court, the court considered whether a passenger in a vehicle driven by a coworker and owned by another coworker could recover benefits under the owner’s insurance policy after a car accident. In that case, the plaintiff and two co-workers were returning from a work trip when the co-worker driving the car fell asleep at the wheel, causing the car to crash and causing the plaintiff significant injuries. The plaintiff recovered workers’ compensation benefits for his injuries as well as uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) benefits through his own auto insurance policy. He also sought benefits from the owner’s insurer, seeking, among other things, UM/UIM benefits.

The court found that the injured passenger could not recover UM/UIM benefits because they were barred by the Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act). The supreme court held that the exclusivity provisions under the Act barred any causes of action related to personal injuries because they were acting within the scope of their employment. Under that state’s law, the provisions extended to a co-employee. The court reasoned that the Act was broad and meant to be interpreted to avoid the necessity of litigation arising from a workplace accident. The court noted that it was not presented with a case in which a worker recovered workers’ compensation benefits, but was injured by an individual who was not a co-employee. Thus, the court dismissed the claim against the owner’s insurer.

Contact a Maryland Accident Lawyer

Injured individuals should discuss their claim with an experienced accident attorney if they have been injured in a Maryland car accident, even if they have received workers’ compensation benefits for their injuries. The dedicated injury lawyers at Lebowitz & Mzhen have over 20 years of experience representing accident victims. They will seek the maximum available damages to ensure that their clients have the compensation to move on with their lives after a serious accident. Their legal team strives to provide each client with personal attention, from the initial consultation until the conclusion of the case. Call them at 1-800-654-1949 or contact them through their website to set up a free, no-obligation initial consultation with an experienced attorney.

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