A few months ago, the Supreme Court of New Hampshire decided a worker’s compensation case involving a Maryland insurance company, Arabella Insurance. In the case, a worker was returning to the office after finishing a job in Massachusetts. Possibly due to extreme exhaustion, the worker fell asleep behind the wheel, crashed into a utility pole, and lost a leg in the resulting accident.
Although the man applied for worker’s compensation, Arabella denied his claim. He appealed the denial of benefits to the state’s department of labor, and they reversed the decision and awarded him the worker’s compensation. The insurer took it to the state’s compensation appeals court, which ruled in favor of the insurance company and stated that the injuries did not arise out of the employment, so he was not entitled to benefits.
It was at this point that the man and his attorney took the case to the New Hampshire Supreme Court. The court reversed the appeals court’s decision, and the man will now start receiving his workers comp benefits.
What Does this Decision Mean?
Well, Maryland and New Hampshire worker’s compensation laws are not identical, so this does not directly apply to worker’s compensation in Maryland. Still, there is useful information that you can draw from this case and keep in mind if you have to apply for worker’s compensation after you suffer an injury.
The NH Supreme Court agreed with the appeals court that there might have been some personal risk that contributed to the accident, and also agreed that it is possible that the driver was being negligent by driving while he was feeling tired.
However, the court also said because he was driving from a job site and back to the office, the injury still arose out of employment and employment risk contributed to the accident. Even if there is some personal risk involved, it does not mean that the worker is not entitled to benefits. If some of the risk was caused by his employment and his carrying out of his duties, then he may be entitled to benefits.
What Does It Mean for You?
This is a clear example of a state supreme court reigning in the appeals court and protecting the rights of injured workers. Under workers’ compensation law, even if you were partly responsible for your injuries, if those injuries arose out of employment, you may still be entitled to compensation. The only types of exceptions to this rule are if you showed extreme recklessness when you caused your injuries or if you were found to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time.
If you have recently been injured while at work, there is a chance that you are entitled to worker’s compensation benefits. You should immediately get in touch with a worker’s compensation attorney, such as one of the many experts at our firm. We can help you examine your specific case and help you file your claim. If the insurer denies your claim, we can help you appeal that decision as well.