Deviating from your job in a Workers’ Compensation Claim

In Maryland, you are entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits if you are injured on the job.  The accident does not have to be someone else’s fault.  Fault plays no role in Workers’ Comp cases.  You do, however, have to be working when you get injured. 

We all may think we know what it means to be “at work” and “doing our job” when we are injured.  But that is not really true.  There are a million situations where you are sort of at work, but not really working, and you could get injured.  The law has evolved (and is still evolving) to cover all of those situations.  Maryland workers’ compensation law has a two part test. 

Maryland workers’ compensation law says you must suffer an injury that “arises out of” your employment, and occurs “in the course of” your employment.  Arising out of the employment means the work conditions somehow caused the injury.  The injury must have arisen from some obligation, condition or incident of the job.  In the course of employment refers to the time, place and circumstances of the injury.  It is this second part of the test (in the course of) where deviation cases happen. 

If you deviate from your job, and you get injured during that deviation, then you may be deemed not “in the course of” your employment and therefore not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.  A good example would be someone who is paid to drive for a living, and they go out of their normal business route to make a personal errand.  I once had a case where a guy did just that when he left his usual business route to deliver a videotape back to the store (remember those days?).  I won the case only because the intersection where his car accident occurred was the same intersection he would normally pass through if he had not gone to deliver the videotape. So the court deemed him to be back on his usual route and he won his workers’ compensation claim.

One of the cases from the 1950’s involved a man who stopped off at the bar on his business travels, then left the bar, got back on his usual business route, and had a one car accident.  I am guessing alcohol and his stop off at the bar was a contributing factor, but the court never analyzed that aspect of the case.  They only cared that he got back on his normal route and therefore he won his workers’ comp claim.  The Court never even considered that his little deviation was to get drunk and that is what caused his accident!  That is the 1950’s for you. 

So not every injury on the clock is compensible as a workers’ compensation claim.  If you did something wholly not work related, then you may not win your workers’ comp claim.  Any good attorney who is familiar with Maryland workers’ comp law can analyze your case and tell you if your case is a deviation or not.

Discover what you need to know about Maryland workers’ compensation claims. Click here to see our Free Legal Consumer Guide to Workers’ Compensation and get answer to your questions today.

Know your options. Be informed. Protect yourself.

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