If you have been injured during the course of your work, you may be wondering whether your injury is covered under by Maryland Workers’ Compensation Law. In order for an injury to be covered by workers’ compensation, the following basic elements must be satisfied:
- You must be an employee;
- You must work for an eligible employer (in Maryland, it is mandatory that employers participate in the workers’ compensation program);
- You must have experienced an accidental injury or occupational disease; and
- Your injury or disease must have been work-related.
Two of the most common disagreements between employees and employers/insurers are 1) whether the employee is an employee or an independent contractor and 2) whether the injury or illness is work-related.
Although it is not necessary to hire an attorney to file a workers’ compensation claim, it is strongly encouraged. Employers often let their insurance companies make decisions with regard to the claims, and these companies save money by disputing claims. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can fight against the insurance companies to make sure you receive the benefits you deserve.
In order for an injury to be covered under workers’ compensation, it must arise out of and in the course of employment. Although in many situations this means the employee is injured at work, this is not always the case. In some instances, an injury may be work-related even if it does not physically occur at the workplace. In other instances, an injury that does occur at the workplace may not be work-related. For example, if two co-workers get into a fistfight at work and one is injured, this will likely not be covered by workers’ compensation.
A number of rules have evolved out of cases where the issue is whether the injury was work-related. Two of these rules are:
- The Coming and Going Rule – Injuries on the way to or from work are general not covered.
- The Dual Purpose Doctrine – If the employee is doing something that is for the benefit of the employer as well as the employee, these injuries may be covered.
The following is an example of an injury that was work-related but did not take place at work:
A firefighter was injured while riding his motorcycle from a local high school, where he had been walking laps on the track, to the fire station to pick up his mail. Because his employer encouraged the employees to exercise and paid the employees for their time spent exercising, the coming and going rule did not apply and the injury was out of and in the course of employment. Roberts v. Montgomery County 436 Md. 591 (2014).
Horseplay and Off-Duty Injuries
Other issues can arise when the injury is caused by horseplay or occurs when the employee is off duty.
As a general rule, off-duty injuries are less likely to be work-related. However, injuries that occur during a short break from work or injuries that occur while the employee is on business-related travel may be work-related.
Likewise, injuries that are caused by horseplay at work might not be covered. Usually, the worker who initiates the horseplay is barred from claiming workers’ compensation benefits. Workers who have not initiated the horseplay but are nonetheless injured are more likely to have a claim that their injuries are work-related.
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