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Can a Maryland Injured worker sue their employer for pain and suffering?

Work injuries can be devastating physically, emotionally, mentally, and financially.  Many injured workers are angry, justifiably so.  Many inquire about whether they can sue their employer for pain and suffering.  This article addresses those questions.

The general rule in Maryland, like many states, is that injured workers are entitled to wage loss benefits, medical benefits, vocational rehabilitation benefits, and possibly at the end of their claim a permanency award under the Maryland Workers’ Compensation statute.  They can obtain those benefits by filing a claim with the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission.

It is important to understand that work injuries are not treated the same as auto accidents, slip and falls, dog bites, and other personal injury, negligence-based claims.  In other words., Maryland injured workers cannot sue their employer separately for pain and suffering.  The workers’ compensation statutes were enacted nationwide nearly a century ago to remove work related injuries from the civil courts to a state administered benefit program.  The answer to whether an injured work can sue their employer for negligence is NO.  Employers do not have to pay for pain and suffering.

One reason workers’ compensation statutes were enacted was to streamline the process and get injured workers benefits they need.  If you know anything about personal injury or auto accident claims, those can take a year, two years, or more to resolve.   With work injuries under the statute, an injured worker files a claim with the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission and upon approval of the claim, an injured worker can receive wage loss and medical benefits. It is a much faster process.  These statutes were called the ‘grand bargain’ between labor and employers.   In essence, the workers’ compensation program is the exclusive remedy for work-related injuries and preclude injured workers from filing separate causes of action against the employer.

That being said, there are a few exceptions to exclusive remedy rule.  First, if the employer fails to carry workers’ compensation insurance coverage, you can choose whether to pursue damages through the Maryland Uninsured Employers’ Fund, part of the workers’ compensation system, or to pursue damages in civil court, just like with negligence personal injury claims.  Second, if an employer acts willfully and intentionally in creating a hazard and dangerous condition which causes the injury, then an injured worker may pursue separate damages in civil court.

Finally, an injured worker may have a separate and distinct cause of action if another party caused the work injury.  The most common type here is an auto accident.  Here an injured worker is involved in an auto accident while in a company vehicle and the other driver was at fault.   There would be a separate auto accident claim against the other driver.  An injured worker could be injured by a defect in a machine used at a job site.  In these cases, the injured worker may have a claim against the manufacturer of that machine.  These claims are not against your employer, but another party.  They are commonly referred to as Third Party Claims.

If you have suffered a Maryland work injury, call Mooney Law today for an absolutely free consultation.  Not only will we litigate on your behalf to fight for and protect your benefits, but we can also file your claim with the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission.  We can also evaluate your claim for a potential third party action.  Call us today at 443-712-7767.  You can also email us direct ot request a free consultation at info@mooney4law.com.  Finally, feel free to visit our website and complete the Schedule a Consultation form.  We are ready to help.