Maryland Employees Who Develop Depression or PTSD as a Result of a Serious Work Injury May be Eligible for Workers’ Compensation Benefits.
In Maryland, an employee who suffers from depression or post traumatic stress caused by an accidental injury that occurred in the course of their employment may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits for the mental or psychological injuries they have sustained. These types of injuries may fall under the category of a disease or infection that results from a work injury.
The Maryland Labor and Employment code specifically carves out in its definition of accidental injury a “disease or infection that naturally results from an accidental injury that arises out of and in the course of employment.
See Maryland Labor and Employment Section 9-10 – Article – Labor and Employment
(b) “Accidental personal injury” means:
(1) an accidental injury that arises out of and in the course of employment;
(2) an injury caused by a willful or negligent act of a third person directed against a covered employee in the course of the employment of the covered employee; or
(3) a disease or infection that naturally results from an accidental injury that arises out of and in the course of employment.
Maryland courts have generally ruled that accidental injuries include “a disease or infection that naturally results from an accidental injury . . . including . . . an occupational disease. . . .” § 9-101(b)(3). The phrase “naturally results from an accidental injury” means nothing more than proximate cause in the usual sense. Dickson Constr. Repair Co. v. Beasley,146 Md. 568, 578-79, 126 A. 907 (1924).
“This aspect of the accidental injury definition has remained substantively unchanged from the inception of the Act in 1914, and this Court and the Court of Appeals routinely have held that diseases that develop as a result of accidental injuries are compensable. See, e.g., Bethlehem-Sparrows Point Shipyard, Inc. v. Scherpenisse,187 Md. 375, 50 A.2d 256 (1946) (typhus fever compensable where evidence established that it was causally related to wound sustained by employee when he accidentally stepped on a nail during his employment); Continental Group v. Coppage,58 Md. App. 184, 472 A.2d 1014 (1984) (involving seizure disorder causally related to accidental injury to head). Thus, a subsequent development of occupational disease will be considered a worsening of condition in an accidental injury case if the claimant proves the requisite causation between the disease and the accidental injury. ” Luby Chevrolet, Inc. v. Gerst, 112 Md. App. 177, 188 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 1996)
The bottom line is that in order to be compensable, under 9-101, the mental health injuries must be proximately caused by the injuries.
Whether a claimant can successfully link their mental health problems to the original injuries will usually depend on the weight and sufficiency of their evidence.
In summary, In Maryland, an employee who suffers from depression and PTSD caused by an accidental injury that occurred in the course of their employment may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. If you are suffering from depression, anxiety or other medical problems that were caused by a work injury, please consult with a Maryland Workers’ Compensation attorney today to discuss whether or not you may have a right to recover compensation from the Employer or their insurer.