Last month, a veteran 43-year-old Baltimore police detective died after having been shot with his own official police weapon while investigating a triple homicide in the Harlem Park neighborhood. With 18 years of service behind him, the officer is survived by his wife and five children, according to The Baltimore Sun.
Normally, under Maryland law, dependent survivors of someone whose death arises out of and in the course of employment are eligible for Workers’ Compensation death benefits, including ongoing cash payments and funeral costs.
In general, Workers’ Compensation benefits are not available if the injury or death was caused by “an intentional, self-inflected accidental personal injury …” Unfortunately, this would mean that death benefits would not be available to survivors if their loved one died by specific intent to commit suicide.
The law also provides that in a proceeding on a Workers’ Compensation claim, unless there is “substantial evidence to the contrary,” the analysis begins with a presumption that the injury or disease (or resulting death) was not intentionally caused by the employee him or herself.
Investigation still open
The Sun reports that in the case of the detective, it has not been determined yet whether the death was self-inflicted, caused by another person or even accidental. Investigators have not named any suspects as of yet. The police commissioner requested that the FBI assume responsibility for the investigation, but the agency’s response is unknown.
The newspaper cites the commissioner as saying there was a “violent struggle” before the shooting and that although there is no evidence of suicide, it has not been ruled out. The coroner, however, did name homicide as the cause of death.
The deceased officer was apparently about to testify before a grand jury about alleged police corruption.
Seek legal advice
The community will await the resolution of this tragic case, but in the meantime, anyone in Maryland who is facing a potential question of whether a work-related injury, disease or death was self-inflected in a Workers’ Compensation claim should consult an attorney as soon as possible. These cases are factually specific and potentially complex, so the guidance and efforts of legal counsel can be particularly important.