Catch Covid 19 at work? Good luck getting Maryland workers compensation benefits.

Maryland workers compensation law is designed to lean in the direction of protecting workers who are injured or contract disease in their workplace or work duties and lay people would imagine that getting covid 19 at work would be covered

The problem in Maryland is that employees essentially have two avenues: did they sustain an accidental injury while in the course of their employment or did they contract an occupational disease and covid 19 does not by its nature fall into the historical definitions of these two categories.

An accidental injury is described on the Maryland Workers Compensation website as " one that happens by chance or without design, taking place unexpectedly or unintentionally." This sounds like it might fit as people are unlikely to contract covid by design or do so intentionally but the employee is nonetheless expected to be able to point to an event when the accidental injury occurred.

That is very difficult with miniscule disease agents in the air, so accidental injury is a tough.

Occupational disease seems on its face to be a good fit but it has definitional limitations that make such a claim hard. They are illnesses caused by the nature of the circumstances surrounding an employees work. Coal miners get black lung, pipefitters are subject to asbestosis and meat cutters get carpal tunnel syndrome. Which is to say that there is something inherent in their employment that produces disease processes that do not exist in other employment settings.

Lawyers aren't likely to get black lung or asbestosis. So healthcare workers probably have a better shot at getting occupational disease benefits than computer programmers. The workers compensation commission would examine a hypothetical covid 19 claim to see if the nature of the employment includes the hazards of covid 19 exposure and then look at the job functions to whether they expose the claimant to those hazards.

This is where virtually every employment which brings people into contact with one another could yield an occupational disease claim if at least some colorable description of possible covid exposure can be described.

The legal course this will take will be fascinating.

 

Robert V. Clark
Maryland Car Accident and Personal Injury Lawyer
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