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Workers' Compensation Blog

Do I have a workers’ compensation case if I get injured while working from home due to COVID-19?

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

We at Berman, Sobin, Gross, Feldman, and Darby are thinking about all our clients during this unprecedented time! A vast majority of the public (including the attorneys and staff at BSGFD) are having to work from home. With so many people trading in their commutes and business attire for teleworking and pajamas, we thought it would be a great time to answer the very important question -- “If I get hurt while working from home, do I have a workers’ compensation case?”

As any good lawyer would tell you, the answer is “it depends!” Luckily, the Court of Special Appeals released an opinion last year (albeit before COVID-19) in Schwan Food Co. v. Frederick, which provides some guidance. The appellate court laid out a three (3) part test to determine if an employee’s home can qualify as a work-place, thereby making such injuries more likely to be covered under the workers’ compensation act:

  1. The quantity and regularity of work performed at home;
  2. The presence of work equipment at home; and
  3. The special circumstances of the employment rendering it necessary, not merely personally convenient, to work at home.

This test has yet to be applied to employees injured while working from home due to COVID-19 and is intended to be very fact specific. In applying these factors, the Workers' Compensation Commission will also consider circumstances such as when, where, and why the injury occurred, and what you were doing at the time of accident.

Getting such injuries covered under workers' compensation can be difficult and it’s highly likely that the insurance companies will be contesting most, if not all, of these cases. Be sure to consult an attorney if you get hurt while working from home, and remember not to give any recorded statements to the worker' compensation adjusters.

In these times more than ever, please try to stay safe, healthy, and happy!

Attorney Julie Mirman

Written by Allyson Bloom, an Associate Attorney with Berman, Sobin, Gross, Feldman & Darby, specializing in medical treatment coverage under workers' compensation.
Allyson Bloom
abloom@bsgfdlaw.com

Workers’ Compensation Hearings Update as of April 17, 2020; Covid-19

Monday, April 20, 2020

True to their mission, the Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC) is continually trying to balance the interests of the injured worker with that of the health and safety of the community at large. Therefore, in response to the recent extension of court closings by Chief Judge Barbera of the Maryland Court of Appeals, the WCC has also announced a postponement of all in-person Commission hearings until June 8, 2020.

The Commission, however, is now in the final stages of establishing the availability of video hearings utilizing the Microsoft Teams virtual platform. All parties involved must agree to continue with the hearing virtually. If all parties do not agree to meet virtually, the hearing will just resume in the normal course, in-person at a later date.

This is a tremendous endeavor by the Commissioners and staff and will go a long way to help get our injured workers the benefits they need and deserve during this difficult time. We applaud the efforts of the Commission as they roll out this new “virtual” court system. There will be glitches along the way, but this will certainly support clearing some of the backlog that continues to accumulate on the hearing dockets.

Attorney Julie Mirman

Written by Julie Mirman, an Associate Attorney with Berman, Sobin, Gross, Feldman & Darby, specializing in medical treatment coverage under workers' compensation.
Julie Mirman
jmirman@bsgfdlaw.com

Workers’ Compensation Hearings and the Maryland Courts Update as of April 15, 2020; Covid-19

Friday, April 17, 2020

Unfortunately, since our last court update, two weeks ago, COVID-19 cases have risen significantly in Maryland. This information reaffirms our states’ decision to social distance and work from home, wherever possible. Our online legal work is bustling between virtual mediations, depositions and motion writing. Thankfully, we have learned to navigate virtually because another extension of court closures were issued for the entire State of Maryland yesterday.

This new order extends court closings until June 8, 2020. The Administrative Judge in Montgomery County issued an order of extension while encouraging parties to seek resolution of cases collaboratively or through mediation. The reality of the situation is that even if the courts open in the beginning of June the courts still will not be fully operational for several months after that.

Therefore, what does this mean for your case? If you are still treating for your condition, many insurance companies are authorizing virtual treatment or office visits, when possible. If you are waiting for a hearing on permanency, some doctor’s have agreed to conduct independent medical exams virtually, but in this new climate it is unclear what weight the Commissioners may give these reports. Now may be a good time to participate in a mediation or agree to a settlement, if appropriate in your case.

Talk to your Attorney regarding your best options and if you or a family member have been afflicted with Covid-19 and feel you were infected with this virus at work please read the previous blog from Ken Berman regarding important steps to follow: http://www.bsgfdlaw.com/workers-compensation-blog/what-to-do-if-you-are-exposed-to-the-coronavirus-at-work.

Attorney Julie Mirman

Written by Julie Mirman, an Associate Attorney with Berman, Sobin, Gross, Feldman & Darby, specializing in medical treatment coverage under workers' compensation.
Julie Mirman
jmirman@bsgfdlaw.com

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