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Workers' Compensation

Maryland: Husband's Settlement Release Does Not Bar Non-Signing Spouse From Death Benefits

Stressing that a person who is not a party to a contract is not bound by its terms, a Maryland appellate court held that a widow was not bound by a settlement agreement signed by her husband that purported to release not only the husband's rights to further compensation (upon payment of the settlement funds) but also any future claims for death benefits that might be filed by a dependent. Citing Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, the court acknowledged that a dependent's claim for death benefits under the Maryland Workers' Compensation Act was based upon the deceased husband's compensable injury or illness, the court said nevertheless the claim for death benefits was independent of the employee's own claim for benefits. The Court also stressed that the deceased may have intended to release the employer from future liability for death benefits, that was not the relevant issue. While a dependent could release his or her current or future claims for death benefits under the Act, an employee had no power to release the dependent's independent claims for death benefits.

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is co-author of Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law (LexisNexis).

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance.

See In re Collins, 2020 Md. LEXIS 263 (May 26, 2020)

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 98.01.

Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law

For a more detailed discussion of the case, see

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