A Maryland special appeals court denied workers’ compensation medical benefits to a hotel employee shot by the friend of a co-worker. Although the shooting resulted from an argument the claimant had at work, the court ruled that the injuries were disconnected from the workplace.
The worker, who was employed as a houseman at a hotel, apparently got into an argument with a female colleague over a supply cart. In the course of the argument, the male employee touched the female’s hand. The encounter led the female employee to become enraged. She allegedly acted out and overturned tables. Later, the woman called a friend whom she allegedly ordered to “take care” of her co-worker.
The court was told that when the male worker left the hotel, he was pursued in a 13-mile high-speed chase by the woman and her friend. When the male banquet worker stopped his car, he was shot and subsequently paralyzed. The Maryland court felt the injuries were personal and not accidental. Benefits were denied because the assault’s timing and location were outside the “range of dangers” that were part of the worker’s employment.
Employees who are harmed by co-workers in or near a job site are sometimes qualified to receive workers’ compensation. In this case, the majority of judges felt the circumstances surrounding the hotel worker’s injuries were too far removed from his workplace. The hotel employee’s assertion that a “special hazard” rule applied was dismissed by the court. Judges felt the employee was not purposely placed in a situation that was more hazardous than one that would be faced by anyone else.
Despite the majority ruling, one judge disagreed, saying that there was clear correlation between the man’s injuries and his place of employment.
While the workers’ compensation claim did not turn out in favor of the man in this case, that is not always the situation. Many employees have a legitimate need for workers’ compensation, and others may be able to appeal a ruling.