By the early 1990’s, all states had at least some sort of protection for people hurt while on the job. This protection, however, was very limited in that the process of filing a lawsuit against an employer was difficult and very time consuming. Negligence by the employer was almost impossible to prove and the legal aspect was complicated and expensive; these auxiliary overheads coming at a time during which no benefits were awarded to the injured workers out of their jobs. Because of this, workers’ compensation (also workman’s compensation or workman’s comp) laws were passed, providing a legal solution to the problem. Workers’ compensation was a new kind of insurance which all employers were required to obtain to protect their employees.
In determining whether or not an injury falls under the coverage blanket of workers’ compensation, there first has to be an established and genuine employee-employer relationship. The laws only protect employees. For example, neither a person working as an independent contractor with a business, nor the individuals in a partnership would be protected by the law. People in these categories (and others not mentioned) can elect to follow the statutory procedure necessary should they wish to obtain the insurance.
The next requirement for filing a workers’ compensation claim is whether or not the injury was an accident (a sudden unusual or extraordinary event the causes an unexpected result in the form of bodily injury). In order for injuries to be compensable under the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Act, they must be classified as an accident. An exception to the rule is an occupational disease. If a worker contracts an illness attributed to the nature of the circumstances surrounding his or her job, they may be protected even though there was no specific accident.
The third requirement for compensation under the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Act is that the accident must arise “out of employment” and “in the course of employment.” The focus of the first aspect is on the exposure of the employee to a risk or danger because of their job requirements. For example, a roofer who was injured when he fell off a house while replacing its shingles would meet the conditions for an injury that rose out of employment. The focus of the second aspect is time, place, and circumstances of the injury. If the injury occurs during the time in which the employee was at work, in the employer’s place of business, and while the employee was performing their job, the injury is said to have arisen in the course of employment.
If all three of the requirements are satisfied, a worker’s injury will generally be covered by workers’ compensation insurance. Often times, an investigation of the claim is necessary. If an individual believes they have a compensable injury, they must file a claim with the Workers Compensation Commission and it will be reviewed to determine the type and any amount of benefits to which the worker may be entitled to.