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What Makes an Injury “Work-related?”

If you suffer work-related injuries, the Maryland workers’ compensation law allows you to take action against your employer.  In order for an injury to be recoverable, the following elements must be met:

  • You must be an employee
  • You must work for an eligible employer
  • You must have experienced an accidental injury or occupational disease; and
  • Your injury or disease must have been work-related.

The question of whether the injury or illness is work-related is one of the most common disagreements between employees and employers/insurers.

Work-related injuries

In order for an injury to be covered under workers’ compensation, it must arise out of and in the course of employment. This usually means that the employee is injured at work, but that is not always the case. Sometimes an injury can be work-related even if it did not physically occur in the workplace. In other instances, the injury may occur at the, but it was not work-related. An example of this would be if two employees engaged in a fight at the work site and were injured.

Under the Coming and Going Rule, injuries sustained on the way to and from work are generally not covered.  This is because going to and from work is usually the employee’s responsibility and does not serve a work purpose for the employer.  The situation may be different, however, if the employee was required to bring his car to work and have it available during the workday.

Under the Dual Purpose Doctrine, is an employee is injured while doing something for the benefit of the employer that is also a benefit to the employee, the injury may be compensable.  So for instance, if an employee is on a trip that serves both business and personal purposes, and the employer’s mission is the main factor in the trip. An example of this would be if an employee was headed to inspect a job site, but made a brief stop on the way to drop his wife off at work. The main purpose of his trip was to travel to a job site.

Off-duty or Horseplay injuries

Generally, off-duty injuries are less likely to be work-related. However, injuries that occur during a short break or while an employee is traveling for work may be considered work-related.  Courts have found that most of an employee’s activities while on a work trip are considered work-related. This includes things like an employee taking a shower in a hotel bathroom.

In addition, injuries that occur during horseplay at work may not be covered. This is especially true for the employee who initiated the horseplay.  If the worker is an innocent bystander injured by the horseplay of others, the injury may be compensable.

Consult an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorney 

The ins and outs of the workers’ compensation system can be complicated and stressful at times. That’s why it’s important to have an experienced Maryland workers’ compensation attorney on your side. Contact the attorneys at Alpert Schreyer, LLC, online or call us at (301) 812-4777 for a free and confidential consultation.

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