One obstacle people might encounter when they are pursuing workers’ compensation benefits is establishing that their condition occurred out of and in the course of their employment.
In situations where there is a single accident, witnesses and an injury that is a direct result of the incident, proving it is related to work can be straightforward. However, there are several scenarios where it is more complicated.
Conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome, rotator cuff injuries, and spine conditions can develop over time. It is possible that the conditions may not be strictly related to a person’s job.
Thus, making the connection between an illness or injury and work can be difficult when other factors unrelated to an occupation could be involved. Critical to compensability is whether or not a physician can provide an opinion indicating that the condition is at least in part related to the injured worker’s occupation.
Injuries off the clock or off-site
An injury does not necessarily need to happen on a job site or during work hours to be compensable. However, those that do not can be more complicated to prove for the sake of workers’ compensation benefits.
Per state laws, an accidental injury must arise out of and in the course of employment. These are different metrics, but essentially they mean that a person must show that work conditions exposed them to a risk of an accident. And, the injury must occur while a person was at work and at a place where work was being performed. These can be challenging requirements for people who work odd hours, off the clock or in multiple locations.
That considered, accidents on employer designated parking lots before or after work hours, or accidents while on a business trip, even when business is not being conducted, are often considered compensable under Maryland law.
While an employee need not prove negligence or fault to receive workers’ compensation benefits, an Employer/Insurer may raise the defense of willful misconduct.
Willful misconduct occurs when workers who were intoxicated, roughhouse, impaired or acting recklessly in situation they were trained not to engage in .
Overcoming these obstacles
These situations can make it more difficult to secure workers’ compensation benefits in Maryland. Employers/Insurers will conduct their own investigation, especially in unique situations as listed above. Therefore, recording details of your work environment and any correspondence between you and your employer are often important. However, most beneficial to an injured worker, is consulting an experienced attorneys who is aware of the exceptions to these defenses and issues and can assist an injured worker in obtaining benefits rightfully deserved.