Prior to Harris v. Board of Education of Howard County, 375 Md. 21 (Md. 2003), an injured worker in Maryland could only receive compensation under the Workers’ Compensation Act if the injury was the result of some “unusual activity”. The decision in the Harris case finally put to rest the unusual activity requirement that first entered Maryland law before the Great Depression. One particular case that helped set the precedent is Slacom v. Jolley, 153 Md. 343 (1927).

Although the elimination of the unusual activity requirement was the most significant change, the Harris court also clarified and reiterated a number of other important aspects of workers’ compensation law in Maryland that had been subject to various interpretations from both the Courts and the Workers’ Compensation Commission in the past.

First, the Workers’ Compensation Act should be construed as liberally in favor of injured employees as its provisions will permit, and any uncertainty in the law should be resolved in favor of the claimant.

Second, the actual activity that gave rise to the injury does not have to be accidental; rather, it is the injury which must have occurred accidentally.

Third, an accidental injury does not have to be confined to a particular and single time, place, or event, but must merely arise out of the employment in some way.

The Harris decision is excellent news for injured workers who wish to file a claim a workers’ comp claim in Maryland under the Workers’ Compensation Act. Not only has an arbitrary but substantial obstacle to securing relief for workplace injuries been removed, but at the same time, employers who object to the workers compensation claims of their injured employees now have one less legal basis for which to resist otherwise legitimate claims.

If you are seeking representation by a Maryland workers’ comp lawyer and/or you would like assistance with filing a workers’ comp claim in MD, please fill out our calculator and ask for the assistance of an attorney.

Besides the case decision itself, other sources included and the WCC.

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