by MacKenzie R. Garvin
The purpose of the Subsequent Injury Fund (SIF) is to persuade employers to hire individuals with disabilities by limiting the employer’s liability for injuries that occurred prior to the employee’s employment. The employer is protected if the employee suffers an accidental injury or occupational disease that alone may not render the employee disabled, but does cause permanent disability when coupled with his or her prior injuries. Subsequent Injury Fund v. Park, 250 Md. 306 (1968). In order for a claimant to be eligible for SIF benefits, he or she must have incurred an accidental injury that is compensable for at least 125 weeks, and have previous injures that are also compensable for at least 125 weeks. The combined total overall disability must be more the 50% of the body. Additionally, the previous impairment must likely be a hindrance to the claimant’s employment, and the combined prior and accidental injuries must be more detrimental to the claimant’s employment than the accidental injury alone.
The SIF does have limitations that must be overcome. Claimant’s that have prior injuries which become worse after his or her accidental injury, because of reasons unrelated to the accidental injury, will not be compensated for the worsening. Subsequent Injury Fund v. Thomas, 275 Md. 628 (1975). Additionally, a claimant can be found permanently disabled by his or her accidental injury alone.Subsequent Injury Fund v. Compton, 28 Md. App. 526 (1975). Recognizing the potential to implead SIF is important to a claimant’s case, as it prevents unnecessary delays and will help to maximize his or her recovery. A review of the claimant’s prior medical history should be taken at the beginning of the case, especially if the claimant presents with a serious compensable injury.