Adam Baron Wins Workers' Comp Benefits for Client Hit Leaving Job Site
When the “check engine” light on Freddie Smith’s pickup truck came on that afternoon of August 29, 2019, he didn’t know a sequence of events was about to unfurl that would change his life forever.
Freddie had been heading back to his employer’s shop that afternoon after having finished work for the day at his job site. The sixty-one-year-old worked as a concrete finisher in Lakeland, Florida, a field he had worked in for most of his life. As his vehicle sat disabled on the side of Combee Road that afternoon, Freddie’s boss came by to pick up his tools and left. The boss's grandson later came by and attempted to tow Freddie back to the shop with a chain. It was during the attaching of the chain to Freddie’s bumper when the unthinkable happened: another vehicle rear-ended Freddie’s car crushing Freddie’s legs in the process.
After multiple surgeries and a nearly one-month-long stay at Lakeland Regional, it started to dawn on a wheelchair-bound Mr. Smith that maybe this incident would be covered by workers' compensation. After all, he had been in the process of heading back to the shop, shouldn’t his employer be responsible for all his medical care and lost wages?
Fighting for Benefits Rightfully Owed
When Attorney Adam Baron filed a claim for Mr. Smith’s workers’ compensation benefits, the response from the insurance company was shocking: Mr. Smith supposedly had quit the job earlier that day and, therefore, would not be entitled to workers’ comp. Freddie vehemently denied these allegations; he loved what he did. Why would he quit the job that kept food on his table?
It became clear to Mr. Baron that they were going to have a fight on their hands. With hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills already incurred and Freddie needing medical care for his injuries for the remainder of his life, the stakes were too big for the case to resolve amicably. Mr. Baron set depositions in Lakeland of all that were involved. The employer’s story started to evolve from Freddie having quit earlier that day to Freddie having been fired at the side of the road minutes before the accident by his boss when he had come by to pick up his tools.
In Attorney Baron’s mind, whether he quit or had been fired was irrelevant—this accident had occurred during a trip from the job site back to the shop while Freddie was transporting the boss's tools. What placed him at the side of the road that day was unmistakable—Freddie’s employment. Mr. Baron knew that workers’ comp covered travel to and from job sites, not just events at the workplace itself.
The Road to Victory
The case went to hearing before the Judge of Compensation Claims in Lakeland, Florida, on February 26, 2020. The defense attorney for the insurance company tried to argue that if Mr. Smith was not an employee at the moment he was struck by the vehicle, then workers’ compensation should not apply to him. Mr. Baron argued, by that logic, if a worker were falling off a roof of a building, all his boss would have to do is yell “you’re fired” before he hit the ground to avoid having to pay workers’ comp benefits to the worker.
Ultimately, Judge Robert Arthur ruled that no resignation or termination had actually taken place that day, and even if it had, Mr. Smith should still be afforded workers’ compensation benefits because the accident had arisen from his employment.
Now, thankfully, Mr. Smith will be able to have all his medical bills taken care of by the insurance company, and they will have to pay him for his past and future lost wages while Mr. Smith continues his long road to recovery.