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In the course of employment: What does it mean?

| Nov 24, 2020 | Workers' Compensation

Work-related injuries can cause a considerable amount of physical and financial stress in a worker’s life.

Thankfully, if a worker suffers an injury on the job, they are often eligible to recover workers’ compensation benefits. However, workers should take some time to understand certain aspects of the law that regulates their benefits – particularly, the phrasing that covered injuries must “arise out of and in the course of employment.”

What does this entail?

Maryland law defines a work injury as an accidental injury “that arises out of and in the course of employment.” (Maryland Code, Labor and Employment §9-101). Many people might interpret this phrase to include any injury that workers might suffer on the job.

However, “on the job” and “arising out of and in the course of employment” do not often have the same meaning. The phrase included in our state’s statute has a specific context.

According to the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission, a few factors may determine a finding that an accident was in the course of employment:

  • The incident occurred when the worker was completing work tasks and duties
  • The incident stemmed from regular duties of employment
  • The incident occurred when the employer required the worker to complete a certain task
  • The incident occurred during the worker’s work hours or shift
  • The incident occurred in the workplace or another work location recognized by the employer

While it is true that these four factors do often mean that the injury occurred on the job, it is critical for workers to understand these particular factors. Claims are interpreted on a case by case basis, so every accident set of facts should be evaluated on an individual basis.

This definition can create a challenge for some injured workers

The elements of what makes up a work injury can make it challenging for some workers to connect their injury to their work in the first place. And, it might be more difficult to prove the four factors listed above for long-term injuries, such as:

  • An injury that developed over time
  • An illness connected to work
  • Hearing loss connected to their work

That is not to say these injuries are not compensable. Maryland law includes many presumptions for certain injuries – including cancers and hearing loss – to help injured workers avoid such challenges.

Even so, injured workers must understand their eligibility to obtain workers’ compensation benefits, so they can protect their rights.  As a result, injured workers will benefit from seeking advice from experienced attorneys.

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