Workers’ Compensation & Employers’ Liability Article Archives
September, 2009 | By Kathryn Lea Harman
On July 28, 2009, the Virginia office of Semmes won an appellate decision in Simms v. Ruby Tuesday, Inc., that could spell the end of the “horseplay doctrine” in Virginia Workers’ Compensation cases. Prior to Simms, the question in claims brought by employees injured by other employees was whether the injured employee was a participant in or an innocent victim of horseplay. A claimant able to prove that he was not a participant thereby established that his injury “arose out of” his employment, and that he was entitled to compensation.
One of the most effective methods in Maryland for controlling workers’ compensation costs is use of the Medical Fee Guide to limit payments for non-hospital medical treatment. The Maryland Workers’ Compensation has worked to find the proper balance between providing injured workers with quality medical care, controlling medical costs for employers and insurers, and providing medical care practitioners with a reasonable financial incentive in order to insure their participation in the system.
In October, Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. named R. Karl Aumann to serve as Chairman of the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission. Chairman Aumann had originally been appointed to the Commission in August of 2005 and, prior to coming to the Commission, had served as Maryland’s Secretary of State.
The decision of the Maryland Court of Appeals in Harris v. Board of Education, issued by the Court on June 6, 2003, expanded the definition of “accidental injury” under Maryland law and eliminated the requirement that the injury must result from some “unusual activity” in order to be compensable. Almost three years later, the Maryland workers’ compensation community is still sorting out exactly what is covered, and what is not, after Harris. Attempts to have the Maryland Legislature amend the statute to redefine “accidental injury” after the Harris case have, to date, not been successful.