Workers’ Compensation benefits, in general, are available for employees who were accidentally injured while in the course of their employment. A threshold issue is whether the injured worker qualifies under Maryland law as an employee. The initial presumption (which can be contested by the employer) is that a worker in the service of an employer is covered.
Usually there is a clear-cut answer. In some cases, however, our workers’ compensation attorneys must investigate the nature of the work and the work relationship with the employer to determine if a hurt worker is entitled to compensation.
Factors Supporting An Employer-Employee Relationship
The Workers’ Compensation Commission and the courts consider a number of factors in deciding whether a worker qualifies as an employee. No one factor is absolute proof, but they are all considered together.
- Wages: if the worker receives regular wages, he is more likely an employee.
- Right of control over worker’s conduct: this factor tends to be decisive—if the employer has the power to direct the manner in which the worker performs his work (for example, scheduling, the exact process required to perform the work, etc…).
- Termination/Discipline: if the employer has the right to terminate the worker’s employment or the right to discipline the worker, there is more likely to be an employer-employee relationship. This factor can be important in the context temp agencies, for example.
- Whether the work is part of the regular business of the employer: employers who hire workers to do work that is not what they are known for may be hiring independent contractors (for example, if the worker is fixing internal computers for a retail store).
- Skill required in the work: where the work is more specialized (like nursing or lawyers, in some cases) there may not be an employer-employee relationship.
- Whether the parties believed they were entering into an employer-employee relationship: the original intent of the parties is important.
- Whether the work is usually done under direction of the employer or without supervision: where supervision is exercised, there is more likely to be an employer-employee relationship.
If the worker is not an employee, he may be an independent contractor which is someone who agrees to perform work free from the control of the employer, except as to the final result. Whether the worker fills out a form from the employer stating that he is an independent contractor is not conclusive proof, particularly if the factors support an employer-employee relationship.
If you have questions about whether you are an employee or an independent contractor, and whether you qualify for benefits under Maryland workers’ compensation law, contact our lawyers at 1-800-776-4529, or send us some information about your comp claim through our online portal. We’ll answer all of your questions.
More Maryland Workers’ Compensation Information
- Maryland Workers’ Compensation Law 101
- Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission
- Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission: Frequently Asked Questions
- Ingerman & Horwitz: Main Workers’ Compensation Webpage