Beneficiary of Texas Man Killed in Car Accident Was Entitled to Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits – American Casualty Co. of Reading, Pennsylvania v. Bushman

highway reflected in rearview mirror, driving through desert foothills

If you’ve been involved in a car accident, you may be wondering whether you really need to hire an attorney. You have what seems like a straightforward case, so you’re confident that the other driver’s insurance company will offer you a generous settlement.

In reality, insurance companies are notoriously tight-fisted, even in obvious cases of liability. Opinions can vary widely as to the value of a case (especially when damages such as pain and suffering or future medical expenses are concerned), with insurance adjusters being at the lowest end of the spectrum.

But, settlement value considerations aside, there’s another, perhaps even more important reason why you should discuss your case with an attorney. There may be more to your case than meets the eye. It may be more than “just” a car wreck case. Issues such as product liability, premises liability, and even workers’ compensation can make their way into what may initially seem like just an average automobile accident case.

Facts of the Case

In the case of American Casualty Co. of Reading, Pennsylvania v. Bushman, the plaintiff was the beneficiary of a man who was killed in a car accident in his personal vehicle on his way to work. Usually, a worker who dies in such a situation is limited to the proceeds of a settlement or judgment of a negligence action against the party who caused the accident, assuming that the worker himself was not at fault.

The widow or widower of a worker who passed away in this fashion might not even think about filing a workers’ compensation claim. Even if the thought crossed the person’s mind, the spouse’s employee benefits department would in all likelihood deny the claim and discourage further action, insisting, “We’re sorry, but workers compensation doesn’t apply to accidents on the way to work.” For many families, the case would end there.

In the American Casualty case, however, the beneficiary was persistent in pursuing benefits for the worker’s death, insisting that her case was an exception to the general rule because the worker had been on his way to a special assignment in another town, not just to his usual workplace. The insurance company denied the claim and fought the beneficiary all the way to the Texas Court of Appeals, insisting that the worker was not “in the course and scope of employment” at the time of the wreck.

The Decision on Appeal

The beneficiary prevailed, with the appellate court agreeing with her that she had established an exception to the usual “coming and going” exclusionary provision of the workers’ compensation laws. Since the employer had agreed to pay for the worker’s travel expenses on the morning of the accident, the worker was in the course and scope of his employment, and the beneficiary was entitled to receive death benefits from the workers’ compensation insurance company.

To Talk to an Experienced Texas Trial Lawyer

Your car accident may not have happened in a work setting, but there may still be issues that could enlarge your potential recovery or possibly threaten your case if not handled appropriately. To schedule a free consultation with Texas car accident attorney Earl Drott, call our offices at 903-531-9300 and ask for an appointment to discuss your Texas car wreck case. We handle cases throughout east Texas, including in Tyler and the surrounding area.

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