Maryland enacted a Workers' Compensation system in 1912. Workers' Compensation is a statutory scheme where an employee may receive compensation for on-the-job injuries without having to first bring a lawsuit against their employer.
Workers' Compensation in Maryland
In Maryland, if you are injured on-the-job you can file a Workers' Compensation claim. Workers' Compensation is “a mandated insurance program to compensate employees who are injured in a workplace accident or rendered ill because of the job.” Before the system was implemented employees injured at work would be required to file a lawsuit against the employer in order to receive compensation. This system was inefficient and expensive for the average employee. Workers' Compensation was adopted in order “to protect workers and their families from hardships inflicted by work-related injuries providing workers with compensation for loss of earning capacity resulting from accidental injuries arising out of and in the course of employment.” Roberts v. Montgomery Cnty., 84 A.3d 87, 95 (Md. 2014) (internal citations omitted). The categories of benefits an employee may receive fall under temporary partial and total disability benefits and/or permanent partial and total disability benefits. If the employee's injury is found to be a covered injury then the employer is "liable to provide compensation . . . regardless of fault as to a cause of the accidental personal injury." Md. Code Ann., Lab. & Empl. § 9-501 (LexisNexis 2015).
Coverage in Maryland
Worker's Compensation benefits covers injuries arising “out of and in the course of employment," as well as injuries caused by the intentional or negligent acts of a third person against the employee while the employee is working. It also covers diseases or infections an employee may get as a result of an accident on the job including frostbite, sunstroke, and "occupational diseases". Md. Code Ann., Lab. & Empl. § 9-101 (LexisNexis 2015). An occupational disease means a disease contracted by an employee from their job that "causes the covered employee to become temporarily or permanently, partially or totally incapacitated.” Id.
Employees are presumed to be covered under Workers' Compensation, Id. at § 9-202, as employers with at least one employee are required to carry WC insurance. Id. at § 9-201. However, an employer can offer evidence that an individual is an independent contractor to avoid liability. Id. at § 9-202.
Requirements To Collect Compensation in Maryland
An employer may dispute whether or not a particular injury is compensable under Workers' Compensation as there are certain requirements that must be met in order for an injury to be covered. These requirements are that the injury must "arise out of" and be "in the course of employment." Id. at § 9-201. These are two separate requirements that both must be met in order for an employee to receive benefits.
Arise Out Of Employment in Maryland
The first requirement is that the injury must "arise out of" the employment. “An injury is said to arise out of one's employment when it results from some obligation, condition, or incident of the employment.” Roberts, 84 A.3d at 94 (quoting Montgomery Cnty. v. Wade, 345 Md. 1, 9-10 (1997)). This focuses on the “causal connection between the employment and the injury.” Roberts, 84 A.3d at 96. Put another way, “[i]f the conditions under which the work is required to be performed by the employer causes the worker's injury, it is said to ‘arise out of' the employment.” The inquiry for this requirement is if the employee is exposed to a danger or risk because of the nature of his or her job.
In The Course Of Employment in Maryland
The second requirement is for the injury to arise “in the course of employment.” This requirement focuses on the “time, place, and circumstances of the injury.” See also, Roberts v. Montgomery Cnty., 84 A.3d 87, 96 (Md. 2014) ("'In the course of' refers to the 'time, place, and circumstances of the accident in relation to the employment.'") (Internal citations omitted.) The inquiry for this requirement is if the injury occurred at work or while performing work related tasks.
If all these requirements are met then a Workers' Compensation claim will typically be covered. If you have been injured in the workplace it is wise to seek the assistance of counsel because an attorney can help you submit a claim and appeal a claim if it is rejected by the Maryland Workers' Compensation Commission. Contact Gilman & Bedigian today for a free phone consultation to discuss your workplace injury case, or if you have any other questions.