On appeal, sleeping driver entitled to workers' compensation

Massachusetts workers rely on workers' compensation to provide financial support when a workplace injury takes place. In certain cases, however, the path to receiving this benefit is not as straightforward as it could be. When workers' compensation is denied, the injured party is left with little choice other than to pursue benefits in a court of law. A recent case is an example of the road that some workers are forced to take to receive the benefits to which they are entitled.

The case centers on an employee who fell asleep while driving. Part of the man's job duties included driving to various job sites in a company-owned truck. While driving from a job site in 2012, the man fell asleep and ran the truck into a utility pole. He was seriously injured in the incident, and he eventually lost the lower portion of one of his legs.

The worker filed for workers' compensation, but the insurance company denied the man's claim. An appeal followed, but the decision was upheld. The matter then went before the state's Supreme Court, where the earlier decision was reversed. In making that decision, the court looked at the circumstances that surrounded the incident.

While the employee could be considered negligent in his actions by having made the decision to drive when he was overly tired, the court stated that the accident took place during the course of the employee's job duties, while he was driving a company-owned vehicle and in between a job site and the company's shop. Because of this, it was determined that the man's employment was a contributing factor to the accident and resulting injuries. Therefore, the man's workers' compensation claim can now move forward. For workers in Massachusetts who are injured in similar circumstances, this ruling could help support their own workers' compensation claims.

Source: insurancejournal.com, "N.H. Court: Worker Who Fell Asleep While Driving Due Benefits for Crash Injuries", Young Ha, March 27, 2015