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Baker v. St. Paul Travelers Insurance Company Warns of the Rules When Hurt on the Job

The intricacies of the law controlling work related injuries in Georgia are often overlooked until an injury is actually sustained. It is challenging to navigate through all the rules when you are injured and just need medical care. When you do not know whether to apply for workers compensation or insurance benefits, you need a knowledgeable Georgia workers’ compensation attorney that can help you get the benefits you deserve.
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On February 28, 2012 the First Circuit Court of Appeals decided that in Massachusetts a person cannot recover for work related injuries under both an employer’s uninsured/ under-insured motorist (UIM) insurance coverage and Workman’s Compensation, except where the employer “explicitly purchased” the UIM coverage with the intention of protecting their employees.

Baker v. St. Paul Travelers Ins. Co. Basically, in Massachusetts if your employer intended to protect you with the insurance they purchase then you are able to collect from both Workman’s Compensation and the UIM insurance company. But if your employer buys the insurance coverage without the specific purpose of protecting their employees, then if you are injured while performing your job duties you cannot collect from the employers UIM insurance company.

The complexities of the law are also illustrated in third-party liability claims. In general, workers’ compensation was created to reimburse employees for loss due to injury on the job, while protecting employers from lawsuits that could put them out of business. Thus in most cases a personal injury lawsuit cannot be brought against an employer. However, a subcontractor, third-party vendor, property owner or other at-fault party may be pursued via a third-party injury claim.

This case in point comes after an incident in December of 2002 when Heidi Baker, who was employed by Safety Source Northeast (Safety), was seriously injured in an automobile accident caused by a third party while she was performing her job duties. Baker collected Workman’s Compensation benefits but the problem arose when she later tried to recover under the (UIM) provision of the automobile insurance policy her employer had with St. Paul Travelers Insurance Company (St. Paul). This victim did not know what benefits she was entitled to and was eager to get the help she needed for the injuries she sustained while doing her job. Do not let this be you.

State law says that in Massachusetts a person cannot recover for work related injuries under both an employer’s UIM insurance coverage and Workman’s Compensation except where the employer “explicitly purchased” the UIM coverage with the intention of protecting their employees. However, Safety’s President testified that he is solely responsible for purchasing automobile insurance for the company, and he was “unaware” of the existence of the UIM coverage under the Safety policy. This testimony negates the required intent on the part of Safety to protect their employees. The case decision cited Baker as “grasping at straws” when she continue to argue even after she recognized that there was no direct evidence that Safety explicitly purchased the UIM coverage with the intention of protecting its employees. St. Paul Travelers Insurance Company won this case and it was held that Baker is not eligible to collect on both state Workman’s Compensation and the employers UIM policy.

When injured in an accident at work you need trustworthy guidance from someone who knows the law and can advocate on your behalf. As in this case, many people are injured while working and they need help when confronted with the mounting medical bills lost wages and other costs associated with an on-the-job accident.

There is often confusion regarding coverage and what assistance you are entitled to. When driving is one of your job duties, be conscious of how your employer’s policy and coverage applies to you. Without experienced legal counsel to help you navigate the confusion of insurance coverage and entitlements, assistance can seem daunting. When involved in a job related injury you need to know your state Workman’s Compensation law and your insurance policy rules before you enter a claim.

We can help direct you through the process of requesting assistance for job-related injuries.

If you have been injured on the job, contact your Georgia Worker’s Compensation Attorneys at J. Franklin Burns, P.C. to schedule a free appointment. Call 404-303-7770.