Maryland Workers’ Compensation law says that if a worker’s injury arose out of and in the course of employment, the employee will qualify for Workers’ Compensation benefits for that work-related harm. While many cases obviously arise out of and in the course of employment, still others happen during circumstances that are not as clear.
Prince George’s County v. Proctor was a 2016 case in which the court of Special Appeals of Maryland analyzed whether a police detective’s injury that happened on his porch at home arose out of and in the course of employment for Workers’ Compensation purposes. He was setting out with his wife and toddler to pick up his squad car when he sidestepped around his toddler so as not to knock the child down, thereby injuring his leg by falling off the porch.
Police officer presumptions
State law creates a presumption of Workers’ Compensation eligibility for police (and firefighters) who develop certain conditions like heart disease or hypertension. Although Proctor was a cop, the presumption would not have applied because the injury was of a different type. Therefore, the court correctly analyzed Proctor’s case like any other claim.
The court said that an injury would arise out of employment when a there was a “causal connection” to it from an “obligation, condition, or incident of employment.” In other words, the injury happened because the worker was exposed to the particular risk because of the job.
Relation to employment
Whether an injury arose in the course of employment looks at time, location and circumstances. For example, did the injury happen during work time? Did it occur at a place where the worker would reasonably perform work duties or engage in “something incident thereto”?
The court cited several factors supporting its decision that the injury did not arise out of and in the course of employment:
- Proctor was on vacation.
- He had not yet left for the trip to get the police car.
- He had not been directed to get the automobile at that particular time.
- He was not on duty or performing police work.
- It happened outside of the “time and space boundaries” of the job.
- The risk of this particular injury was not a danger connected to police work.