Code of the District of Columbia

§ 32–1501. Definitions.

When used in this chapter, the term:

(1) “Adoption” or “adopted” means legal adoption prior to the time of the injury.

(2) “Brother” or “sister” includes stepbrothers and stepsisters, half-brothers and half-sisters, and brothers and sisters by adoption, but does not include married brothers nor married sisters unless wholly dependent on the employee.

(3) “Carrier” means any person or fund authorized under § 32-1534 to insure under this chapter and includes self-insurers.

(4) “Child” includes a posthumous child, a child legally adopted prior to the injury of the employee, a child in relation to whom the deceased employee stood in loco parentis for at least 1 year prior to the time of injury, and a stepchild or acknowledged child born out of wedlock dependent upon the deceased, but does not include married children unless wholly dependent on the employee.

(5) “Child,” “grandchild,” “brother,” or “sister” includes only persons who are:

(A) Under 18 years of age, and also persons who, though 18 years of age or over, are substantially dependent upon the deceased employee and incapable of self-support by reason of mental or physical disability; or

(B) Are students as defined herein.

(6) “Compensation” means the money allowance payable to an employee or to his dependents as provided for in this chapter, and includes funeral benefits provided herein.

(7) “Death” as a basis for a right to compensation means only death resulting from an injury.

(8) “Disability” means physical or mental incapacity because of injury which results in the loss of wages.

(8A) “Domestic partner” shall have the same meaning as provided in § 32-701(3).

(8B) “Domestic partnership” shall have the same meaning as provided in § 32-701(4).

(9) “Employee” includes every person, including a minor, in the service of another under any contract of hire or apprenticeship, written or implied, in the District of Columbia, except:

(A) An employee subject to the provisions of § 7902 and subchapter I of Chapter 81 of Title 5, United States Code;

(B) An employee subject to the provisions of subchapter XXIII of Chapter 6 of Title 1;

(C) Any secretary, stenographer, or other person performing any services in the office of any member of Congress, or under the direction, employment, or at the request of any member of Congress;

(D) An employee of a common carrier by railroad when engaged in interstate or foreign commerce or commerce solely within the District of Columbia;

(E) An employee engaged in employment that is casual and not in the usual course of trade, business, occupation, or profession of the employer unless the employee is employed in domestic service in and around a private home by any employer who, during any calendar quarter in the same or the previous year, employed 1 or more household domestic workers for 240 hours or more; or

(F) Any person who is a licensed real estate salesperson, or a licensed real estate broker associated with a real estate broker, if:

(i) Substantially all of the salesperson’s or associated broker’s remuneration is derived from real estate commissions;

(ii) The services of the salesperson or associated broker are performed under a written contract specifying that the salesperson or associated broker is an independent contractor; and

(iii) Such contract includes a provision that the salesperson or associated broker will not be treated as an employee for federal income tax purposes.

(10) “Employer” includes any individual, firm, association, or corporation, or receiver, or trustee of the same, or the legal representative of a deceased employer, using the service of another for pay within the District of Columbia.

(11) “Grandchild” means a child as above defined of a child as above defined.

(12) “Injury” means accidental injury or death arising out of and in the course of employment, and such occupational disease or infection as arises naturally out of such employment or as naturally or unavoidably results from such accidental injury, and includes:

(A) An injury caused by the willful act of third persons directed against an employee because of his employment; and

(B) The contracting of COVID-19 (the disease caused by the novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 or any of its recognized mutant variations) in the course of and within the scope of employment.

(13) “Insurance consultation services” means any survey, consultation, inspection, advisory or related services performed by a carrier, its agents, employees or service contractors incident to an applicable policy of insurance for the purpose of reducing the likelihood of injury, death or loss, or to collect or verify information for purpose of underwriting.

(14) “Mayor” means the Mayor of the District of Columbia, or his designated agent.

(14A) “Nonscheduled benefits” means any partial disability not enumerated in § 32-1508.

(15) “Parent” includes stepparents and parents by adoption, parents-in-law, and any person who for more than 3 years prior to the death of the deceased employee stood in the place of a parent to him, if dependent on the injured employee.

(16) “Person” means an individual, partnership, corporation, association, firm, trust, or legal representative thereof.

(17) “Physical impairment” means any physical or mental condition which is or is likely to be a hindrance or obstacle to obtaining employment.

(17A) “Physician” means a physician, dentist, or chiropractor licensed in:

(A) Accordance with Chapter 12 of Title 3; or

(B) Any state or jurisdiction of the United States, in accordance with the laws of that state or jurisdiction.

(17B) “Professional athlete” means a skilled athlete under a contract of hire or collective bargaining agreement.

(17C) “Professional athlete’s work life expectancy” means the work life expectancy of a professional athlete that is determined separately for each professional sports franchise in the District by the Office of Workers’ Compensation through its rulemaking authority.

(17D) “Safe workplace program” means a program that an employer implements voluntarily to promote safety in the workplace. A certified program shall include a formal written safety policy developed by a safety committee made up of equal numbers of management representatives and employee representatives who are elected by their peers and who serve on the clock, and whose functions include a workplace inspection at least annually, regular meetings with written records, and making recommendations to the employer of ways to eliminate workplace hazards and unsafe work practices, appropriate training in hazard assessment and control, effective accident and incident identification and the role of the federal and local Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Where there is a duty to bargain collectively, the employer shall collectively bargain the use and implementation of the safe workplace program.

(18) “Student” means a person regularly pursuing a full-time course of study or training at an institution which is:

(A) A school or college or university operated or directly supported by the United States, or by any state or local government or political subdivision thereof;

(B) A school or college or university which has been accredited by a state or the District of Columbia, or a state or District of Columbia recognized, or nationally recognized accrediting agency or body;

(C) A school or college or university not so accredited but whose credits are accepted, on transfer, by not less than 3 institutions which are so accredited, for credit on the same basis as if transferred from an institution so accredited; or

(D) An additional type of educational or training institution as defined by the Mayor, but not after he reaches the age of 23 or has completed 4 years of education beyond the high school level, except that, where his 23rd birthday occurs during a semester or other enrollment period, he shall continue to be considered a student until the end of such semester or other enrollment period. A child shall not be deemed to have ceased to be a student during any interim between school years if the interim does not exceed 5 months and if he shows to the satisfaction of the Mayor that he has a bona fide intention of continuing to pursue a full-time course of education or training during the semester or other enrollment period immediately following the interim or during a period of reasonable duration during which, in the judgment of the Mayor, he is prevented by factors beyond his control from pursuing his education. A child shall not be deemed a student under this section during a period of service in the Armed Forces of the United States.

(18A) “Utilization review” means the evaluation of the necessity, character, and sufficiency of both the level and quality of medically related services provided an injured employee based upon medically related standards.

(19) “Wages” means the money rate at which the service rendered is recompensed under the contract of hiring in force at the time of the injury, including the reasonable value of board, rent, housing, lodging, or similar advantage received from the employer, and gratuities received in the course of employment from other than the employer.

(20) “Surviving spouse or domestic partner” includes the decedent’s spouse or domestic partner living with or dependent for support upon the decedent at the time of his or her death, or living apart for justifiable cause or by reason of his or her desertion at such time.

(21) When used in this chapter, the singular includes the plural.

(July 1, 1980, D.C. Law 3-77, § 2, 27 DCR 2503; Mar. 6, 1991, D.C. Law 8-198, § 2(a), 37 DCR 6890; Sept. 22, 1994, D.C. Law 10-169, § 2, 41 DCR 5145; Apr. 16, 1999, D.C. Law 12-229, § 2(a), 46 DCR 891; Oct. 14, 1999, D.C. Law 13-49, § 12(a), 46 DCR 5153; Sept. 12, 2008, D.C. Law 17-231, § 31(a), 55 DCR 6758; May 13, 2021, D.C. Law 24-6, § 303(a), 68 DCR 003198.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 36-301.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 6-1405.01, § 32-1508, and § 32-1511.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 13-49 added the definition of “nonscheduled benefits”.

D.C. Law 17-231 added pars. (8A) and (8B); and rewrote par. (20), which had read as follows: “(20) ’Widow’ or ’widower’ includes the decedent’s wife or husband living with or dependent for support upon the decedent at the time of his death; or living apart for justifiable cause or by reason of his or her desertion at such time.”

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 303(a) of Workplace Safety During the COVID-19 Pandemic Emergency Amendment Act of 2021 (D.C. Act 24-26, Feb. 26, 2021, 68 DCR 002616).

Temporary Legislation

For temporary (225 days) amendment of this section, see § 303(a) of Workplace Safety During the COVID-19 Pandemic Temporary Amendment Act of 2021 (D.C. Law 24-6, May 13, 2021, 68 DCR 003198).

Editor's Notes

District of Columbia Workers’ Compensation Equity Amendment Act of 1990 Rulemaking Disapproval Resolution of 1991: Pursuant to Resolution 9-145, effective November 22, 1991, the Council disapproved the proposed rules to implement the District of Columbia Workers’ Compensation Equity Amendment Act of 1990.

Mayor authorized to issue rules: Section 4 of D.C. Law 8-198 provided that the Mayor shall, pursuant to subchapter I of Chapter 15 of Title 1 (subchapter I of Chapter 5 of Title 2, 2001 Ed.), issue rules to implement the provisions of this act within 90 days from the date of enactment of this act. The proposed rules shall be submitted to the Council for a 45-day period of review, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, legal holidays, and days of Council recess. If the Council does not approve or disapprove the proposed rules, in whole or in part, by resolution within this 45-day review period, the proposed rules shall be deemed approved.

(b) The proposed rules shall include standards for:

(1) A coding system for medical reports and bills; and.

(2) The implementation of utilization review.