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Massachusetts Court Discusses When Travel Constitutes a Work-Related Activity for Workers’ Compensation Claims

Under Massachusetts law, if a person is injured in the course of his or her employment during an activity that arises out of his or her job, the person may be able to recover workers’ compensation benefits. Thus, if a person is injured traveling for his or her job, the person can file a workers’ compensation claim. Recently, the Appeals Court of Massachusetts, Suffolk, analyzed when traveling constitutes an act taken in furtherance of a business so as to warrant workers’ compensation benefits for injuries sustained during travel, in a case in which the court denied benefits to the estate of a worker who died while traveling. If you were injured while traveling for work, you should meet with a capable Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney to discuss whether your employer may owe you workers’ compensation benefits.

Facts Regarding the Decedent’s Harm

It is alleged that the decedent, who was the principal of a family-owned business, died in a car accident in February 2014. The decedent’s widow subsequently filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. An administrative judge determined that the decedent was not killed during a trip that was undertaken in the furtherance of his company’s business and denied the decedent’s wife’s claim. The review board affirmed, after which the decedent’s wife appealed.

When Travel is a Work-Related Activity

The Massachusetts workers’ compensation acts covers injuries that arise out of work and occur in the course of work. Additionally, injuries suffered while traveling for the business affairs of an employer, that arise out of an ordinary risk of traveling are covered as well. In determining whether the risk of the trip was a personal risk or a risk of the employment, the court must assess whether the employment caused the employee to embark on the journey, or whether the trip was undertaken for other reasons.

The court stated that even if an employee has more than one motivation for taking a trip, as long as a significant part of the trip was related to his or her employment, the employee will be deemed to be acting in the course and scope of his or her employment. The purpose of a trip and its relationship to the injured party’s employment are questions of fact.

In the subject case, the court noted that at the time of the decedent’s accident he was traveling for personal interests, and not the interest of his business. Specifically, he was traveling to meet a real estate agent regarding selling a vacant property. Thus, the court found that the administrative judge properly denied the decedent’s wife’s claim.

Speak with an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorney About Your Case

Anyone injured while traveling for work may be able to recover workers’ compensation benefits. If you were injured while traveling for work purposes you should speak with an experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney regarding whether you may be owed benefits. The seasoned attorneys of Karsner & Meehan will assess the circumstances surrounding your injury and help you to pursue any benefits you may be able to recover. We can be contacted at 508-822-6600 or through the form online to set up a free and confidential meeting regarding your potential claims.