In Maryland, workers’ compensation is due to “covered employees” who suffer an “accidental personal injury” or “occupational disease” within the meaning of Title 9 of the Labor & Employment Article of the Maryland Code—also known as the Workers’ Compensation Act (“the Act”).
What is a Covered Employee?
The threshold question in any comp case is whether an individual is covered by the Act. To be entitled to an award, an injured worker must qualify as a “covered employee.”
In Maryland, a worker is presumed to be a covered employee under the Act, and the burden is on the employer to rebut the Claimant’s employee-status. Many factors must be considered in order to determine whether a compensable employer/employee relationship exists; for example: who has hiring and firing power? who pays the wages? who exercises power and control? For more information, click here.
What is an Accidental Personal Injury?
A compensable “accidental personal injury” under the Act arises out of and occurs during the course of an individual’s employment. This inquiry is highly fact-driven and depends largely on the specific circumstances of an individual case. That reality aside, as a way of thinking about what constitutes an accidental personal injury, simply ask whether an injury can be considered an “incident of employment.” In other words, but for the individual’s employment, would the injury have occurred? Consider the time, place and circumstances of the accident in relation to the employment, and whether there is an obvious connection between the employee’s work and the injury. Relatedly, an occupationally-related hernia that develops as a result of an accidental personal injury or strain may also be compensable under the Act. For more information, click here.
What is an Occupational Disease?
In addition to an accidental personal injury, Workers’ Compensation benefits are available for employees who suffer a disablement as a result of an occupational disease. Occupational diseases develop over an extended period of time and are due to prolonged exposure to hazards that are unique to a particular type of employment. For example, hypertension and heart complications in police officers, lung disease in firefighters and carpal tunnel syndrome in secretaries are all potentially compensable under the Act as an occupational disease. For more information, click here.
Workers’ Comp Death Benefits
Death benefits are available to the survivors of a covered employee who dies as a result of a work-related disability. In order for a survivor to qualify for death benefits, he or she must have been “dependent” on the covered employee at the time of the accidental personal injury, or in cases of occupational disease, at the time of disablement. A dependent within the meaning of the Act is defined as someone who was receiving their “reasonable necessities” from the covered employee at the time of injury or disablement.