Does Workers’ Compensation Cover Employee Negligence?
As an injured worker, you have a right to collect workers’ compensation benefits. In most cases, negligence is not a factor. The fact that the injury occurred while you were employed and completing your assigned duties is all that matters. The benefits you receive can cover medical and therapy bills, out-of-pocket expenses, and a portion of your lost wages.
Depending on how your accident happened, however, could impact your eligibility for benefits. Understanding the state laws and process for determining compensation is an important part of submitting a successful workers’ compensation claim. Our lawyers can explain the details to you, so you’re fully informed and know what to expect.
Understanding Employee Negligence
In most cases, employers are liable for the actions and mistakes of their employees. This is why employers need to train the people they hire properly, ensure necessary safety measures are taken, and provide equipment to keep the workplace safe.
If an employee makes a mistake on the job and harms themselves or someone else, the injured party can seek workers’ compensation. In Maryland, the system is considered “no-fault.” This means that the injured employee is entitled to monetary recovery regardless of fault. The victim does not need to prove who was responsible for the accident that led to their injuries.
This is in direct contrast to a personal injury claim, where damages are only available if the plaintiff can prove the defendant was at-fault for their loses. If you believe your injuries were the result of third-party negligence, you may be able to additionally file a personal injury lawsuit. A third-party is a person or company that is unrelated to your place of employment and the work you do.
Depending on how your accident happened, a negligent employer might try to discourage you from filing a claim. If, for example, you were involved in an automobile accident in a company vehicle or were hurt in a slip and fall accident, it’s important to remember that you have the right to file regardless of fault. Understanding your rights and standing up for yourself at all times is crucial.
Determining Workers’ Compensation Eligibility
To be covered by workers’ compensation law, the injury must be the result of an accidental personal injury. This means that the injury arose out of and in the course of employment. It can also be caused by a willful or negligent act directed against you, the covered employee. The final definition of an accidental personal injury involves a disease or illness that naturally developed as a result of employment, which includes sunstroke, frostbite, and occupational diseases.
The benefits you receive are contingent upon the severity of your injury. You could be eligible for Temporary Total Disability Benefits, Temporary Partial Disability Benefits, Permanent Total Disability Benefits, or Permanent Partial Disability Benefits. You may also receive compensation for medical or hospitalization bills, wage reimbursement, and vocational rehabilitation.
When you file your claim, you’ll do so with the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission. In most cases, your claim is processed in only a few days. When your claim is reviewed, the evaluator will not be looking for signs of fault or neglect. Instead, they’ll be reviewing when and where the accident occurred. They’ll also look at your medical records to determine the severity of your injuries, which is the deciding factor in which type of benefits you’re assigned.
While negligence isn’t usually a factor, there are some situations where you may not be eligible for workers’ comp benefits. Scenarios include:
- Commuting back and forth from home
- Being on break
- Self-inflicting injuries
- Violating company policy
- Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Engaging in criminal activity
To best understand how the laws apply to your specific circumstances, a lawyer from Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC can examine your situation and help you determine how to proceed.
Protect Your Rights
If you’ve been injured at work and have questions about workers’ compensation benefits, get in touch with our law firm. We can review your situation before you file for benefits, so your claim is as strong as possible when you submit it. In the event of a denial, we’ll help you file an appeal and get you back on your feet.
No matter how your accident happened, if it happened within the course of employment you are more than likely entitled to benefits. Even with a minor injury, it’s important to report the incident and file a claim. Neglecting to do so could hurt you more in the future, especially if your injuries worsen. Contact us today for more information.