Is Travel for Work Covered by Workers’ Compensation?November 16, 2020
Many people in Baltimore, and throughout Maryland, travel for work. The travel might be occasional or constant. It may be local, national, or even international. It may occur during working hours or outside of normal working hours. One question that is often asked of a Workers’ Compensation lawyer is if an accident that occurs while traveling for work will be covered by the state’s Workers’ Compensation laws. However, coverage depends on the worker’s circumstance.
What is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ Compensation provides employees who have been injured on the job a means to obtain medical treatment and compensation for lost earnings. The employee is not required to prove that the employer was at fault or that the employee is without fault. In most cases, employees give up their right to sue the employer in exchange for filing a Workers’ Compensation claim for benefits. The Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission administers the Workers’ Compensation program under laws established through statute. These statutes define standards for being disabled as it relates to a work-related accident or injury, as follows:
- Temporary partial disability: Disability is temporary in nature and partial in extent. The injured employee receives medical treatment and still works but not full time at their normal job or works a different job for lower pay.
- Temporary total disability: Disability is temporary in nature but total in extent. The injured employee receives medical treatment and is unable to work as a result of the injury.
- Permanent partial disability: Disability is permanent in nature but partial in extent. The injured employee has reached maximum medical improvement and is working, but the injury has impaired the employee’s ability to perform their job.
- Permanent total disability: Disability is permanent in nature and total in extent. The injured employee has reached maximum medical improvement but cannot perform any work of any kind for which a market exists.
Must an Employer Carry Workers’ Compensation Coverage?
Employers in Maryland must retain Workers’ Compensation coverage for the benefit of their employees. They must also provide employees with information about the claims process and notify the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission of all job injuries. Most of Maryland’s employers obtain Workers’ Compensation coverage through an outside insurance company.
It is important to remember that these insurance carriers are in business to make money. They may try to avoid paying injured employees or may offer them much less than the claim is worth. For this reason, injured employees should not speak to insurance companies directly but should first contact a Workers’ Compensation lawyer. Anything an injured employee says to the employer or insurance company could potentially invalidate a claim.
What Does Maryland Workers’ Compensation Cover?
Maryland law provides for various compensation depending on loss and damages, including payment and benefits for the following:
- Medical expenses and future medical care
- Loss of earnings, whether the employee is classified as total, partial, temporary, or permanently disabled
- Complete loss of, or loss of use of, a body part or limb
- Vocational rehabilitation when the injured employee cannot return to his or her original work
The injury must be accidental in nature and arise out of and in the course of employment. However, interpretation of this concept has been the subject of much debate and litigation.
Generally, if an employee suffers a physical or mental injury while performing tasks for or at the direction of the employer, that injury is compensable. However, not every injury that fits this definition is compensable. For example, when a workplace injury results from inappropriate behavior, willful misconduct, or intoxication, it is not compensable.
Special rules also apply when an assault by a coworker causes the workplace injury. It is a good idea to contact a Workers’ Compensation lawyer for any type of workplace injury.
Is Travel for Work Covered by Workers’ Compensation?
As stated, a work-related injury must occur as a result of an employee’s work and in the course of performing their duties for it to be compensable. Fortunately for traveling employees, Maryland courts have generally held that injuries that happen during work-related travel are treated as though the employee was injured at work, and that most of an employee’s activities during a work trip or travel fall within the course of employment.
For example, if an employee is staying at a hotel for a business meeting and is injured at the hotel restaurant, the injuries are most likely covered under a Workers’ Compensation claim because eating is a necessary part of the employee’s travel for the company. The law can become more complicated when an employee traveling for business departs from work-related activities.
In the 2014 case of Dallas E. Gravette v. Visual Aids Electronic, et al., the Maryland Court of Special Appeals concluded that a traveling employee who is engaged in reasonable and foreseeable recreational activities when injured has a right to recover Workers’ Compensation benefits for injuries because such recreational activities are reasonably incident to travel.
In this case, the employee had slipped and fell at a nightclub in the hotel where he was staying. The Workers’ Compensation Commission denied his initial claim on the basis that his employer did not instruct him to visit the nightclub, nor would the employer gain anything from his visit there. The Court of Special Appeals, however, found that although his visit to the nightclub was not considered necessary or essential to his job, it was an activity that was expectable and reasonable for a traveling employee to engage in and therefore, incidental to travel. His claim for benefits under Workers’ Compensation was allowed.
Is Commuting to Work Considered Work Travel?
In most cases, commuting to work is not considered work travel. An accident that occurs while a Maryland employee is commuting to or from the job generally falls under the accepted so-called come and go rule. This rule absolves an employer from responsibility for an accident that occurs during the employee’s own commuting time or when an employee is running errands not related to work during working hours.
Important Steps to Take When Injured During Work Travel
Workers’ Compensation is a complex area of law, and any missteps can have a negative impact on the rights of an employee who is injured in the course of their employment. For this reason, an employee who is injured during workplace travel should do the following:
- Seek medical help, first and foremost.
- Report the accident to the facility where it happened and to the employer. The injured employee should not disclose details or admit fault for the accident, as that may invalidate a claim. The employee should just report that an accident has occurred.
- As soon as possible, an experienced Workers’ Compensation lawyer should be contacted.
- With guidance from the Workers’ Compensation lawyer, the employee should file a Workers’ Compensation claim within the required time period, usually within 60 days of the date of injury.
- The injured employee should not accept a settlement from the employer or the insurance company or a denial from the Workers’ Compensation Commission. The employee should allow the Workers’ Compensation lawyer fight for all the benefits available under law.
Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Fight for Employees Injured While Traveling for Work
The Baltimore Workers’ Compensation lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton have been handling Workers’ Compensation cases for Maryland employees for more than 30 years. Employees who are injured while traveling for work are usually eligible for the same Workers’ Compensation benefits as an employee who is injured directly at work. We will work tirelessly on your behalf to recover benefits for you. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 844-556-4LAW (4529) or contact us online. Located in Baltimore, we serve clients throughout Maryland.