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Are Volunteers Covered by Maryland’s Workers’ Compensation Law?
Did you know that if you represent your employer as a volunteer, and are injured in the course of the volunteer activity that your employer may try to deny workers’ compensation benefits? Generally speaking, in order for an injury to be compensable in Maryland, it must arise out of and in the course of employment. Representing an employer as a volunteer may create issue regarding compensability of accidental injury. This issue is fact specific, meaning whether an injury occurred while volunteering is covered by workers’ compensation insurance depends on the facts and circumstances of the case.
If an employer and/or workers’ compensation insurance carrier denies a claim, the employee’s case will be set for a hearing before a workers’ compensation Commissioner. At the hearing both parties will be provided the opportunity to present their case. Medical reports and any other relevant documents may be submitted into evidence. The claimant may testify. The employer and insurer may also call witnesses. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Commissioner will apply the facts to the law and render a decision. Decisions of the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission are not issued from the bench, but instead, are issued in writing and mailed to the parties.
In contested cases involving an injury sustained by employee while volunteering on behalf of the employer, the Commissioner will likely consider the legal finding by the Court of Appeals of Maryland in the case of Sica v. Retail Credit Company, Et Al., 227 A.2d 33 (1966). The Sica case involved an employee who was seriously injured while participating in a company picnic. As stated in its decision the Court recognized: “Recreational or social activities are within the course of employment when (1) They occur on the premises during a lunch or recreation period as a regular incident of the employment; or (2) The employer, by expressly or impliedly requiring participation, or by making the activity part of the services of an employee, brings the activity within the orbit of the employment; or (3) The employer derives substantial direct benefit from the activity beyond the intangible value of improvement in employee health and morale that is common to all kinds of recreational and social life.” Id. citing 1 Larson, Workmen’s Compensation, § 21.
Proving an accidental injury is compensable under Maryland Workers’ Compensation statutory law is a fact driven exercise. The attorneys at Jenkins, Block & Associates, P.C., work diligently to gather the relevant evidence, present the evidence before the Commission, and provide legal arguments in support of our client’s cases. If you have been injured on the job, the lawyers at Jenkins, Block & Associates would welcome the opportunity to discuss your legal rights with you. Phone calls are free so please contact us at 1-800-243-7122.