In Maryland, workers’ compensation law is clear that a work-related injury or disablement is either an accidental injury or an occupational disease. The injury cannot fall in between the two categories and it cannot fall into both categories. For an occupational disease, the claimant must file a claim with the Commission within two years from the date of disablement or when the worker first had actual knowledge that they had a disabling occupational disease caused by the employment.
Generally, an occupational disease is an ailment, disorder, or illness, which is the expected result of working under conditions naturally inherent in the employment and is usually slow and insidious in its approach. There are certain occupations where there is a presumption that a claimant suffers from an occupational disease, i.e., it is presumed that police officers who suffer from hypertension suffer an occupational disease.
A compensable occupational disease requires that you satisfy multiple tests. The first test is an objective test, which requires that you prove one of the following: (1) show that the disease is an occupational disease, due to the nature of the employment in which the hazards of the disease actually exist; or (2) show that the disease and its manifestations are consistent with those known to result from a given physical, chemical, or biological agent attributable to the employment. After the objective test is satisfied, the claimant must then prove that subjectively, based on the weight of the evidence, it may be reasonably concluded that this disease actually did come from the employment. Finally, the claimant must prove disablement.
The employer/insurer who is responsible for compensating a claimant for an occupational disease is someone who employed the claimant prior to the date of disablement. The employment where the claimant was last injuriously exposed to the hazards of the occupational disease is the employer/insurer responsible for compensation.