Do I have a workman’s comp case?
Determining whether one has a valid workers compensation case can be explained using confusing legal jargon that will only create more questions. Rather than explain the law using legalese such as “arising out of” and “the course of employment” my goal is to explain things in language that best provides an understanding of what the law requires for an employee to be covered by workmans comp.
There are a number of considerations that must be made when determining if an employee has a workmans comp case. For one, an injury must have been sustained. For two, an injury must have been sustained by an employee. The injury must have been sustained while the employee was working. At the time of the accident the employee must not have been engaging in any wrong doing.
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To have a workmans comp case one must have sustained an injury at work?
An injury is required for a person to have a workman’s’ compensation case under Maryland law. The fact that a person was offended, bullied, picked on, or chided ordinarily does not result in a valid claim. If a person has physical pain as a result of something that happened at work they may very well have a valid workmans comp case. Examples of injuries that are covered include broken bones, sprains, strains, tears, burns, over use injuries, and psychological injuries. Most injuries sustained at work are considered as an accidental injury claim. There are however occupational disease claims. Most often these include forms of cancer from exposure to certain hazards or chemicals, or repetitive use injuries such as carpal tunnel after spending significant time using the hands.
To have a workmans comp case one must be an employee?
Most often there is not a question as to whether a particular person is an employee, however there are some scenarios that may lead to the argument that the person was not an employee because they were a contractor. If an employee is deemed to be a contractor at a workers compensation commission hearing then they would not have a workman’s comp case. Note: just because an employer or even the injured calls themselves an independent contractor does not mean for purposes of workers comp they are an independent contractor. A free consult with a qualified and experienced workers compensation attorney can verify employment status.
Occasionally there is the argument that their were two employers at the time of the accident. Sometimes dual employment exists in construction cases or when there are temp agencies involved.
To have a workmans comp case one must be working at the time of the incident
For any particular job the duties and responsibilities may vary greatly. For the most part if an employee is performing one of their job tasks when they are injured they will qualify for workers compensation benefits. There are however a number of gray areas in Maryland workers comp laws that may lead to argument that the employee was not “working” and does not have a workmans comp case. For example, was the employee who was hurt on their lunch break covered under workmans comp? With the right attorney this case can be argued successfully. Was the lunch break on the jobs premises?, did it benefit the employer indirectly by allowing the employee to regenerate and be more productive?, was lunch mandatory?, was the employee paid on break?, was lunch limited in time and duration?
Another example of a situation where it could be argued that the employee was not working would be in the circumstance of the traveling employee. A family healthcare advocate travels throughout her home town county to visit families in need of assistance. She left one residence and went home to take a break. Was the advocate working when she was involved in a collision on the street she lives? Most would say there is no way she is working but a qualified attorney would argue the legal merit of the case and be successful! How far from her next appointment does she live? Was she going to drive right passed her home on the way to the next appointment? Did the employer have something to gain by allowing her to go to her house for breaks? Did they know and approve of the breaks? Did they control the length of the break?
Some other examples of employees working and having a workers comp case include:
- Employee injured while playing football at a company sponsored game- valid claim;
- Employee injured while driving to work in company car- valid claim.
- Employee injured while using the employer’s tools and shop, with permission, for a personal craft was valid claim.
- Employee falling in parking lot of employer before work is covered!
- Employee hit by car when leaving company property for a coffee break- covered.
- Employee assaulted by an unknown criminal in the parking lot of her work was covered.
To have a workmans comp case the employees must not have been acting wrongly. ie willful misconduct
Willful misconduct argument is one of a handful of defenses against workers compensation cases in Maryland. If the employee acted in a manner that placed him at risk for injury a willful misconduct argument may prevail in defeating the workman’s comp claim. Some examples of this argument are intoxication, physical confrontations, or acts of aggression.
See other Defenses here.
So do you have a workers comp case?
If you have been injured, while working, as an employee the odds are that you have a valid workers compensation claim in Maryland. The reality is that there are a great volume of exceptions to this rule in the “gray area” of the Maryland law. There is also a chance that even if the claim is deemed valid workers comp will deny future benefits or compensation. It is best to have a workers compensation attorney on your side if a claim is to be filed. Fees are only paid if money is recovered.
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Maryland workers compensation attorney Andrew M. Rodabaugh and his office offers information about Personal Injury law and Workers’ Compensation for informational purposes only. Nothing contained herein constitutes formal legal advice. If you need the advice of a Maryland workers compensation lawyer, please contact him today. He has offices throughout the state and various convenient meeting locations. Each and every case needs to be evaluated before legal advice can be provided. Under no circumstance should the information on this website be considered medical advice. This is an attorney’s website and is not affiliated with any government agency or government entity of any kind.
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