Maryland workers’ compensation laws serve to protect employees in the event of work-related injuries. Under workers’ compensation laws, an employer’s insurance company must pay for injuries that occur during any work-related task or activity. The workers’ comp system takes the financial burden of medical costs off employees’ shoulders and encourages employers to keep a safe, productive workplace to avoid claims. If you suffer an injury at work in Maryland, find out if workers’ compensation will cover you.
#1. Accidental Injury
Maryland’s workers’ compensation statute is very specific regarding which employees will qualify for benefits. Title 9 Section 9-501 states that an employer shall provide compensation to employees for “accidental personal injury sustained by the covered employee.” The statute states that in these circumstances, the employer is liable for damages regardless of fault. The phrasing in this statute is important. It means that just because a worker sustains an injury on the job or at work, he or she may not qualify for workers’ comp benefits.
First, a genuine employee-employer relationship must exist. Workers’ compensation does not cover friends doing jobs for an employer or independent contractors. In non-employee situations, an employer can elect to cover the workers in a workers’ compensation policy, but coverage is not mandatory. Then, the injury must have been an accident. An accidental injury is one that occurs by chance or “without design.” It must have taken place unintentionally and/or unexpectedly. Finally, the injury must have arisen out of the employment. This provision not only means that the employee must have been performing a work-related task at the time of injury, but that the injury occurred due to work-related conditions.
A work-related condition might be wet floors at a car wash or hard-to-reach items in an inventory warehouse. The employer exposes his or her employees to these hazards in the job environment. The injury must have also occurred “in the course of employment” – meaning, while the employee was working. A pizza delivery person, for example, could file a workers’ comp claim in Maryland for a car accident that occurred during a delivery to a customer. However, the same person could not claim workers’ compensation if he or she was off work and driving for personal reasons.
#2. Wrongful Death in the Workplace
Maryland’s workers’ comp laws also cover employees who suffer wrongful death, according to the same provisions listed above. Section 9-501 states that an employer must provide compensation to the dependents of a covered employee for the death of the employee, with two stipulations:
- The death must have resulted from an accidental personal injury the covered employee sustained.
- The death must have occurred within seven years after the date of an accidental personal injury.
In these circumstances, the surviving spouse and/or children of the covered employee could file a workers’ compensation claim for wrongful death. Dependents may receive compensation for medical costs up to the date of the employee’s death.
#3. Occupational Disease
An exception to the statute’s “accidental injury” rule is for occupational disease. Illnesses caused by the nature of the worker’s job are occupational diseases, and likely covered by Maryland workers’ comp. Section 9-502 of Title 9 states that employees may receive compensation for job-related illnesses, even if no “accident” occurred. Asbestos poisoning or mesothelioma from working with construction materials with asbestos, for example, may be a coverable disease.
Workers’ compensation laws in Maryland are very particular about what an employer’s insurance will and will not cover. The laws can be confusing, and many employers may try to get out of paying a claim. If you need help filing for workers’ compensation in Maryland, contact a local Baltimore personal injury attorney. An attorney can help you determine eligibility and file a claim according to state laws.