Broadly, an injured or sick worker is eligible for Maryland workers’ compensation benefits if the injury or disease is work related. The legal and factual question is whether an injury or illness arose out of and in the scope of employment. When a claim is denied, whether the injury met this standard is often the issue disputed by the employer or insurer.
Work commutes can be tricky
Normally, if someone is injured during his or her commute to or from the workplace, that injury will not normally be within the course of employment and therefore not the basis for a successful workers’ compensation claim. For example, someone injured in a bus accident while riding the bus to his or her office in the usual daily routine would usually not be able to collect workers’ compensation benefits for that injury.
The so-called “going-and-coming rule” does have some exceptions, however. For example, according to Maryland case law:
- When an employer provides cost-free transportation to the employee to commute each way to work, an injury during that commute would be considered to arise out of employment and qualify the person for workers’ compensation.
- When an employer’s premises has a public road between two parts of the premises, if a worker is hurt on the road between the premises, it may be compensable.
- When an employee is injured off of work premises, but it is because of a “peculiar or abnormal degree” of exposure to a danger that is a “risk incident” to the job, the injury may be covered. This is called the proximity exception.
- If an injury happens during a commute to or from the workplace and the worker was on a “special mission or errand” for the employer, it may be the basis of a claim.
- If a trip away from work combines both a personal and business purpose and the employee is injured, the “dual purpose” doctrine allows a viable claim if the trip would have had to have been taken by someone affiliated with the employer even without the personal purpose.
The going-and-coming rule has been the subject of many disputed workers’ compensation claims and is a complicated, fact-specific area of law. Anyone with questions about this type of claim should speak with an attorney as soon as possible, even after a claim has been denied, as review or appeal may be available.