Court upholds jurisdiction to determine "employee" status in PIP action
The Court of Appeals ruled this week that it shares the jurisdictional right to decide whether an injured driver is an "employee" for purposes of receiving no fault PIP benefits. The case is Aboona v. Great West Casualty Company, and the Plaintiff was an "independent driver" operating a tractor-trailer. While the Court's decision that it shares the power to apply or not apply the Workers Disability Compensation Act sounds logical, it opens the door to outcomes that defeat the purpose of the Act.
Workers Comp. was originally intended to provide minimum "certain" benefits to injured employees, without allowing legal maneuvers (e.g., "assumption of the risk," "comparative fault," the "fellow servant doctrine") to defeat the worker safety net. By allowing a no fault claim to be defeated in Circuit Court by reference to an "independent contractor" status and the employee's tax records showing little profit, the minimal income established in the workers compensation act can be defeated. Along with the "safety net."