Can an Injured Maryland Worker File Suit After Receiving Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

Maryland’s Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act), first enacted in 1914, generally requires employers to pay workers’ compensation benefits to employees who suffer an accidental injury during the course of their employment, regardless of whether the employer was at fault. The Act is designed to ensure employees the right to quick compensation for their workplace injuries, while also taking away their rights to sue their employers for negligence. This means that a claimant can often not seek damages in a subsequent civil suit, though there are exceptions. In a recent opinion, a state court considered whether an employee could recover from a co-employee after settling her workers’ compensation claim.

The plaintiff was an employee at a human services agency. He was attacked by one of the company’s clients and filed a workers’ compensation claim for his injuries. The parties settled the claim. The plaintiff then filed suit in district court against her supervisor on a theory of gross negligence. The supervisor argued that he was protected under the settlement. The state’s supreme court explained that the state’s law allowed injured employees who had received workers’ compensation benefits to file claims against co-employees in the case of gross negligence. Thus the claim generally would have been permitted. However, the court agreed with the supervisor, finding that the language in the terms of the settlement extinguished the plaintiff’s gross negligence claim. The court found that the language in the settlement agreement was broad and released all employees of the employer for all liability. Thus, the court ruled against the employee and dismissed the case.

Filing Suit After a Maryland Workers’ Compensation Act Claim

The Maryland’s Workers’ Compensation Act is meant to resolve all claims of injured workers. It is generally the exclusive remedy for employees to recover compensation from their employers for workplace injuries. This means that generally a claimant cannot later file a civil suit against the employer to recover compensation for the workplace injuries. This rule is meant to carry out the intent of the Act by resolving the claim entirely and prevent an injured employee from recovering twice, under the workers’ compensation act and through the court. However, Maryland’s Workers’ Compensation Act now allows injured employees to file workers’ compensation claims and to bring suits against third-party tortfeasors who caused the injury, as in the case above. A co-employee is considered a third party under Maryland law. Under the Act, if the injured employee or employer files suit against a third party, the employer is entitled to seek reimbursement in the amount of any workers’ compensation paid to the injured employee.

Contact a Maryland Accident Lawyer for Immediate Assistance with Your Workplace Injury Claim

Clients that have filed a workers’ compensation claim may still be able to pursue a civil lawsuit in some circumstances. The accident lawyers at Lebowitz & Mzhen have more than 20 years of experience representing the rights of residents in the Baltimore area and throughout Maryland. The attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen have the resolve and the resources to pursue all parties responsible for clients’ losses. They handle Maryland premises liability cases, car accidents, and other common workplace accidents. Fill out a contact form online or call them at 800-654-1949 to schedule a free consultation.

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