An interesting workers compensation decision handed down by a New Jersey appellate court panel demonstrates why an employee, in Florida and elsewhere, should not give up on a workers’ comp claim too easily. Workers’ compensation laws do vary to a degree from state to state, but the legal definition of “on the job” has been historically interpreted in ways that often favor workers.
Employee In Crash Departing From Work
In the New Jersey case, an employee of Harrah’s Atlantic City casino was pulling out of the casino’s parking garage and onto MGM Mirage Boulevard at about 10 p.m. when her vehicle was struck by another vehicle in traffic. The casino worker was injured in the crash.
A judge in the New Jersey Division of Workers’ Compensation initially ruled on the May 2012 accident in May of 2013. The judge ordered Harrah’s to pay for the treatment of what were determined to be work-related injuries.
Surveillance Video Determinative
Harrah’s appealed the decision, as its lawyers pointed out that most of the employee’s vehicle was out in traffic on the public thoroughfare at the time of the collision. Survelliance video did confirm that most of the SUV was out on MGM Mirage Boulevard. However, the video also confirmed that the rear bumper of the vehicle had not yet crossed the property line that delineated Harrah’s private property from the public street.
Therefore, a two-judge appellate court panel ruled that the casino worker was, in fact, still on the job. As a result, her injuries were legally defined as work-related and her employer had to pay for her injuries through its workers compensation insurance policy.
Injuries incurred at an individual’s workplace are addressed by a state’s workers compensation laws. As this case illustrates, the legal definition of the workplace is not so readily determined. For more information, or to discuss your situation, please contact us.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration tallied 4,424 fatalities in Florida for 2012, the latest year for which it has complete records. The following are some specifics regarding the statistics with ways to avoid joining the numbers for the current year.
- Urban areas were more dangerous than rural. The former showed 1,551 fatalities while the latter had 870. Miami-Dade County had the most fatalities, followed by Broward, Hillsborough, Orange and Palm Beach. The reasons behind these high numbers are obvious. These areas had the highest populations driving the most cars, thereby increasing the chances of an accident. When the streets are more crowded, slow down and allow enough space between you and the next vehicle so that you can stop.
- Single vehicle crashes, which resulted in 1,376 fatalities, were the most common. About 919 involved leaving the roadway and 768 happened in an intersection. Two major factors can cause such accidents. The primary factor in most accidents is distraction, so avoid using your cellphone, eating, putting on makeup or doing anything that removes your focus from the road. The second is fatigue, which is more common after work and late at night. If you’re feeling to tired to drive, pull over to a safe spot and catch an hour or two of sleep. That should refresh you enough to continue safely on your way.
- About 37 percent of the fatalities showed a Blood Alcohol Concentration of 0.08 percent or greater. This was close to the national figure of 35 percent. In other words, over a third of all fatal accidents could be avoided if drinking didn’t precede driving. If you’ve had one too many, don’t try to drive home. Instead, ask a sober friend. Remember that you can always return in the morning to retrieve your car. If you were drinking alone, call a cab. The expense does not compare to the time, money, and sorrow you’ll spend for a traffic accident.
The advice given here for avoiding accidents is neither new nor difficult to implement. But because people ignore them, accidents still happen. If you or someone you love become involved in one of these statistics for the year, please contact us right away.
Here’s a recent news story that illustrates why attorneys can be necessary to settle insurance claims and recover what is owed to claimants. Insurance companies at their best are trying to pay as little as possible to claimants, but in this case the insurance company is trying to ignore the claim altogether.
NBC’s Channel 5 in West Palm Beach recently profiled the case of Laura Melendez. When she contacted the news station, it had been three months since her accident. Her insurance company, Windhaven, still had not settled her claim. According to Melendez, she was unable to speak with anyone at the company and consistently received excuses about her adjuster’s absence. It wasn’t until she contacted the Consumer Watchdog division of her local news company that Windhaven that her claim finally was finally settled. Melendez says that she heard back from Windhaven about 5 minutes after a Channel 5 representative had made the call.
We know that insurance companies don’t always follow through on the terms of their contracts. But we can’t always turn to our local news stations for help. AT DDB Law, we have years of experience dealing with insurance companies, making sure that claims are settled equitably and efficiently. Whenever filing an auto insurance claim, it’s always important to proceed carefully in order to receive the best compensation for your accident. Document your accident and any injuries or damage it may have caused, keep meticulous records and never sign a release or waiver before seeking out reliable legal advice. Ultimately, if you don’t think your insurance company is paying what it should, contact us for a free consultation.