Thursday, 16 February 2012 18:04
Worker’s Compensation laws are designed to ensure that employees who are injured or disabled on the job receive compensation in fixed amounts without needing to resort to litigation against their employer. Worker’s compensation is basically an insurance program, which most employers are required to carry that covers injuries or disabilities to their employees. While the federal government oversees a worker’s compensation program for federal employees and certain other specific types of employees, most states have their own worker’s compensation law. Because worker’s compensation laws can vary greatly from state to state, you should contact a top Maryland worker’s compensation lawyer if you have suffered a job-related injury. This overview is designed to provide a general roadmap of the worker’s compensation law system.
Basic Structure of Worker’s Compensation System
The worker’s compensation system is basically designed to provide a way for employees to be compensated for work related injuries without having to file a lawsuit against their employer. As a trade off, worker’s compensation is the exclusive remedy available to an employee. Employees are limited to the compensation provided by worker’s compensation system and cannot sue their employer for personal injury if the injury qualifies for worker’s compensation.
Who Gets Compensated
Only “employees” are covered by Maryland worker’s compensation law, as is the case in other states. Independent contractors are not covered by worker’s compensation insurance. Employers sometimes designate those who provide services as “independent contractors.” The characterization of the relationship between the injured party and the employer is not dispositive. If the relationship is actually one of an employee-employer nature, worker’s compensation law applies regardless of how the relationship is characterized in the agreement between the employer and the person who is providing services.
Cause of Injuries
The injury must be caused by an “accident.” An accident is a sudden or extraordinary event that causes an unexpected result. The only exception to the accident requirement is occupational illnesses. These types of illnesses are caused by the nature of the circumstances surrounding the employee’s job. A person whose job is to remove asbestos from building and gets asbestos related illness would still be covered even though he is not injured by an accident.
Course and Scope of Employment Test
Maryland worker’s compensation law does not cover all injuries. Under the worker’s compensation law in most states, including Maryland worker’s compensation law, injuries are not covered unless they occur within the “course and scope of employment.” Whether an injury qualifies under the “course and scope of employment test,” can be a complicated question with lots of room for dispute. A top Maryland worker’s compensation lawyer can determine how best to establish that an injury qualifies. An employee who is injured “on the job” or while “at work” does not necessarily qualify under the course and scope of employment test.
• Arising Out of Employment: The injury must arise out of the employment to qualify for worker’s compensation. This factor means that the nature of the job or work environment gave rise to the risk of the type of injury that actually occurred. Whether the type of risk that led to the employee’s injuries is the type that would be created by the job is the key. By way of example, when a driver that delivers pizza is in an auto accident, this is exactly the type of risk that one would expect an employee to be exposed to if he is driving around delivering pizza.
• Arising in the Course of Employment: The course of employment factor is slightly different. With this factor, the emphasis is on the time, place and circumstance of the injury. This factor is met if the following conditions are met: (1) The employee’s injury occurred during the period of time he was at work; (2) The injury occurred at the employer’s place of business or at some other location to which the employer directed the employee; (3) The injury occurred while the employee was doing his job or related duties.
Types of Disability Benefits
There are both long-term and short-term benefits potentially available. These benefits can include medical costs, wage replacement and sometimes vocational expenses. These can vary based on state law, but examples under Maryland worker’s compensation law are outlined below.
• Temporary Disability Benefits: Temporary benefits can be for partial or total disability on a short-term basis. Partial disability benefits are paid during the period of recovery when the employee is temporarily but only partially disabled. These benefits typically provide replacement income when the employee’s earning capacity is reduced due to restricted assignment or shorter hours during recovery. Total disability benefits are paid if the employee is completely unable to work for a temporary period.
• Permanent Disability Benefits: If you are permanently either partially or totally disabled, you will receive long-term payments or lump sum pay out. The amount depends on the nature and extent of the employee’s disability.
Find a Maryland Worker's Compensation lawyer here.