Some injuries at work are incurred while you were performing your job duties. But what if you were injured at work because you were goofing around? Can you still seek workers’ compensation benefits?
Workers’ compensation in Maryland
You cannot be compensated for all workplace injuries in Maryland, even if the injury happened at work. Maryland law states that a workplace injury will only be covered if there was an employee-employer relationship, the injury was accidental, the injury arose out of employment and it was suffered within the course of employment.
What does that mean?
First, there must be an employee-employer relationship between the worker and employer. Independent contractors, those who work alone as sole-proprietors or partners with no employees do not qualify for workers’ compensation unless they purchase a policy themselves.
Second, the injury must be accidental. This means that it took place by chance, unexpectedly or unintentionally.” There is an exception for occupational diseases.
Third, the injury must arise out of employment. This means that the injury must have arisen out of the conditions under which the employer required the job duties to be carried out. The worker must have faced some risk or danger due to the requirements of their job.
Fourth, the injury suffered must be in the course of employment. This requirement focuses on the time, place and circumstances under which the worker was injured.
If the worker was injured during work hours, at the business or other work location, and while the worker was executing their job duties or related activities when they were injured, this element is satisfied.
So, can I be compensated if I was goofing around?
Workers’ compensation eligibility is not always easy to determine. Often, the Workers’ Compensation Commission or the employer’s insurance carrier will perform an investigation before determining whether to award benefits.
However, if you were goofing around when you were injured at work, it may not have arisen out of employment. This is because the worker did not become injured due to the risks or dangers posed by the job requirements.
An injury caused by goofing around also may not have been suffered within the course of employment. This is because it was not incurred while executing job duties.
Still, any workers’ compensation claim has individual nuances, and no two cases are alike. It takes careful examination of the facts of the case and how they apply to Maryland workers’ compensation law to determine whether the worker’s injuries can be compensated.