Rideout v. Dep’t of Public Safety & Corr. Services, 149 Md.App. 649, 818 A.2d 250 (2003). 

Facts: In 1998, employee Rideout injured her left shoulder in a work related accident and did not return to her employment, MD House of Correction Annex, until September 20, 1999. The next day, she was sent to the firing range to be qualified to use a 12-guage shotgun.  Rideout sustained an injury from firing the shotgun. On September 23, she was examined by a physician’s assistant who determined that Rideout could return to regular duty the next day. September 24th, Rideout was examined by her orthopedic surgeon and he determined that she could not work because of the injuries and he referred her to “off work status.” Rideout requested work related accident leave from the Dept. and she learned that it was denied 3 months later.

Procedural History: Rideout filed grievance disputing denial and two hearings conducted before the Dept. Rideout filed claim with Workers Compensation Commission. March 13, 2000 the Commission determined that she suffered injury during employment, awarded her temporary total disability from Sept 22, 1999 to the present, medical expense and attorney’s fees. Rideout appealed Dept denial to the OAH, which was heard by ALJ and determined that the Dept could not rely on diagnosis conducted by physician’s assistant and she waived right to recover accident leave if receiving TTD. Circuit Court of Baltimore city affirmed ALJ’s decision.

Issue: (1) Did AJJ err, as a matter of law, in finding that the Department incorrectly denied appellant’s request for work-related accident leave?

(2) Does a state employee waive any right to “other benefits”, under State Pers. & Pens. § 9-704(c), by receiving temporary total disability benefits under the Maryland Workers Compensation act?  

Holding: (1) No, SP & P 9-701(a)(2) indicates that an employee is entitled to accident leave if “a physician examines the employee and certifies that the employee is disabled because of the injury”.

(2) No, a State Employee is entitled to receive “other benefits” from employer while receiving total disability benefits under Maryland Workers Compensation Act. 

Rationale: (1) Due to the fact that Rideout was examined by a physician’s assistant and not a physician, the ALJ did not err in finding that the Department could not rely upon the diagnosis of an assistant to deny Rideout’s request for accident leave.

(2) In Correctional Pre- Release System v. Whittington this court determined that State Pers. & Pens. § 9-704(d) precludes a State employee who receives accident leave from employer from receiving TTD, from WC Commission, at the same time. The statue is intended to bar employees from receiving double recovery for the same injury. Allowing an employee to receive both TTD and accident leave would allow the employee to recover twice.   But, since SP & P  § 9-704(d) bars employee from receiving TTD benefits while receiving “payment” fro accident leave and SP & P  § 9-704(c) indicates that “payment” refers to compensation based on two- thirds of employees normal pay there is nothing barring employee from receiving “other benefits”. In addition, SP & P 7-605(c) was enacted in 1993 to clarify that employees receiving work related accident leave continue certain benefits such as leave, seniority and health care.

Source of analysis comes from Case Law.  For more information on MD workers comp, please contact Warnken, LLC.

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