No question about this: Workers’ Compensation covers medical treatment for employees injured on the job. However, does a home security system qualify as medical treatment?
According to an appeals court in Maryland, the answer is yes.
Carol Simmons, a night auditor, was brutally attacked with a baseball bat during a robbery at a Comfort Suites Hotel.
Left for dead, 67-year-old Simmons was found hours later, lying unconscious in a pool of blood.
She was treated for severe traumatic brain injury and multiple skull fractures during 2.5 months in the hospital.
Maryland’s Workers’ Compensation Commission awarded Simmons temporary total disability benefits.
A neuropsychologist treating Simmons said she continued to fear someone would harm her in her home and that her anxiety was contributing to insomnia.
The doctor strongly recommended a home security system be installed.
The WC Commission granted the request for the security system.
Comfort Suites appealed.
What constitutes medical treatment?
The motel chain argued that a security system didn’t constitute medical treatment.
In an initial appeal, a court sided with Comfort Suites’ argument.
But Simmons appealed that ruling. This time, the court of appeals said a jury could reasonably find that a home security system, in Simmons’ case, did qualify as medical treatment.
The court wrote: “Where there is a recommendation from a medical professional that a device or service be provided because it will provide therapeutic medical relief from the effects of the injury, the determination whether it is compensable medical treatment is a question of fact.”
Now, the case will either go to a jury trial or be settled out of court. It may be difficult for Comfort Suites to argue its case before a jury, because its lawyer stated, “I completely understand and frankly agree with” the need for a home security system for her peace of mind.
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Cite: Simmons v. Comfort Suites, Court of Special Appeals of Maryland, 3/31/09. You can download the case here (free Adobe Acrobat Reader required).