How Does Workers’ Compensation Help Injured Employees?
Workers’ Compensation is a complex system established under Maryland law to protect injured employees. It offers financial benefits to cover costs for medical treatment, lost wages, and more. Injured employees do not need to prove that their employers were negligent in order to obtain benefits. Employees may also obtain compensation even if the accident was their fault.
If you are seeking Workers’ Compensation benefits, it is important to file a claim promptly and properly to preserve your eligibility. However, Maryland law is full of specific timelines and legal subtleties that may be difficult to understand. You may also face roadblocks created by sophisticated attorneys hired by your employer’s insurance company. For these reasons and more, it is in your best interest to contact an experienced Workers’ Compensation lawyer to evaluate your claim and guide you through this process.
What to Do If You are Injured at Work
There are several important steps to take after a work injury. First and foremost, seek medical attention. Notify your employer as soon as possible after a workplace injury to start the process of initiating a claim. Documenting your injury is important and keeping all follow-up appointments with doctors is necessary to ensure you receive the benefits to which you are entitled.
How Can a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Help Injured Employees?
A Workers’ Compensation lawyer can offer you many advantages at a time when you may feel overwhelmed by physical pain and other challenges associated with your work-related illness or injury. The experienced Workers’ Compensation lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton understand the Maryland Workers’ Compensation system and can help you in the following ways:
- Complete all paperwork correctly
- Meet all deadlines
- Accurately estimate the current and future costs of your injuries
- Compile evidence to create a strong case for your claim
- Look out for your best interests
We have found that many workers who are not familiar with the law are at a significant disadvantage if they attempt to file a claim on their own. Part of the reason for this is that insurance carriers who work for employers hire sophisticated attorneys who may attempt to deny or minimize the value of the injured worker’s claim. Workers may be told that their injury or illness is not work-related, or that their medical condition is not serious enough to warrant time off from work. Tragically, some workers return to their jobs before they have fully recovered, leading to future medical problems.
At LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton, we have the knowledge that is required to build a strong case for maximizing your benefits. We are skilled at gathering vital evidence and presenting it in a manner that clearly demonstrates the true severity of your condition. Helping you obtain the maximum benefits you deserve will ensure that you and your family will be well taken care of. When you choose us, you can be sure that our number one priority is to look out for your best interests.
What Benefits are Available to Injured Workers in Maryland?
Under Maryland law, the benefits available to injured workers include the following:
- Payment for medical expenses
- Compensation for loss of earnings
- Compensation for the complete loss or use of a body part
- Vocational rehabilitation
The amount of benefits and the length of time payments continue will depend on the nature and extent of the injury. Maryland law outlines different schedules of benefits for each of the following categories of disability:
- Temporary Partial Disability. The injured employee is working but is still receiving medical treatment. However, the employee either works at a different job at a lower rate of pay or is unable to work full time.
- Temporary Total Disability. The injured employee is unable to work at all and is still receiving medical treatment, but the disability is expected to be temporary.
- Permanent Partial Disability. The injured employee has reached maximum medical improvement and is working; however, the injury has impaired the employee’s ability to perform the previous job.
- Permanent Total Disability. The injured employee has reached maximum medical improvement but is not able to perform any marketable type of work.
Vocational rehabilitation at no cost may be offered to employees who cannot return to their original job but are well enough to pursue a different line of work.
Where are Workplace Accidents Likely to Occur?
Workplace accidents can happen anywhere; however, some occupations are statistically more dangerous than others. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) calculates occupational risk by examining the number of fatal workplace injuries per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers. According to this metric, loggers and fishermen consistently have the most dangerous occupations, with up to 100 times more fatal injuries per 100,000 FTE workers than average. Pilots and roofers were next, followed by sanitation workers and construction workers.
Although many workplace accidents occur at construction sites or on the road, all types of workers risk injury and death every day. We have handled claims for a wide variety of workers, including the following:
- Construction workers
- Factory workers
- Health care workers
- Office workers
- Restaurant staff
- Retail workers
- Truck drivers
- Sanitation workers
- Shipyard workers
There are many types of injuries and illnesses endured by these workers. Some of the most serious include the following:
- Amputation of limbs
- Brain injuries
- Broken bones
- Catastrophic injuries
- Internal injuries
- Lung damage from exposure to hazardous substances
- Spinal cord injury and paralysis
Many of these medical conditions require lifetime treatment and physical therapy.
Responsibilities of Employers
Maryland employers are responsible for obtaining Workers’ Compensation coverage for their employees. This is typically done through licensed insurance carriers that offer Workers’ Compensation coverage.
Employers also have a duty to notify the Workers’ Compensation Commission of job injuries and to provide employees with information regarding the claims process. Typically, employers will display a poster with this information in prominent locations, such as in a lunchroom or by a time clock. The poster must include the following elements:
- Notice that the employer has obtained Workers’ Compensation coverage
- The employer’s full legal name, address, and Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN)
- The name of the employer’s insurance company providing Workers’ Compensation coverage
- The process that an employee must following when filing a claim
Employers must also respond to an injured employee’s claim within a specified time period to either accept or dispute the claim.
Does Workers’ Compensation Cover All Employees in Maryland?
According to the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC), a genuine employer-employee relationship must exist for a worker to be eligible for benefits. Independent contractors and sole proprietorships do not qualify. Also, temporary workers hired for 30 days or less in and around the employer’s private home are not eligible for benefits.
Most accidents on the job are covered. However, if the injury occurs when a worker is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or is willfully behaving violently or dangerously, the injury may not be covered. Special rules apply if the workplace injury is a result of an assault by a coworker.
How to Claim Benefits
Before you file a claim, you must obtain medical attention and report the accident or work-related illness to your employer. Your employer in turn must notify the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission by filing a report.
If you were injured in an accident on the job, you must file your Workers’ Compensation claim within 60 days of the incident. If you are suffering from a work-related illness, such as emphysema or asbestosis, you must file a claim within one year of becoming aware that your illness was caused or exacerbated by your job; the sooner you file, the faster you will receive benefits if your claim is accepted. When the Commission receives your claim, they will issue you a claim number and a consideration date. Your employer and/or your employer’s insurer have until that date to accept or raise objections to your claim. For example, they may argue that your injury is not work-related.
In 2018, the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission processed 24,041 claims. However, employers disputed more than 10,000 of those claims. This statistic highlights the challenges that injured workers face when attempting to file claims, as well as the benefit of seeking legal guidance after a workplace injury.
How Long Do Workers’ Compensation Benefits Last?
The duration of Workers’ Compensation benefit payments will depend on the medical condition of the injured employee and whether the employee agreed to accept a settlement and close the case. In some cases, it may be in the employee’s best interest to take a large settlement payment and close the door on future benefits. However, in other cases, an injured worker’s condition may be likely to deteriorate. Injured workers who do not take final settlements generally have five years from the date of the last payment of compensation to ask that their case be reopened so they can apply for additional compensation.
The advice of a skilled Workers’ Compensation lawyer can be invaluable when an injured employee is considering a settlement. If you are facing this question, you can rely on the experienced lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton to help you make the decision as to whether or not to settle. If you received a settlement award and you believe that your condition has worsened, call us, even if we did not handle the original claim in your case. We are available to help.
How Much Do Workers’ Compensation Attorneys Charge for Their Services?
Injured employees pay no out-of-pocket costs for retaining the services of a Workers’ Compensation lawyer. In the state of Maryland, lawyers must first obtain the approval of the Workers’ Compensation Commission before charging a fee. In order to qualify for a fee, the attorney must recover compensation benefits for his or her client. The amount of the fee is strictly regulated by law, and there are no exceptions. Any money paid to a Workers’ Compensation attorney comes from the employer’s insurance company, not out of the employee’s pocket.
Maryland Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Seek Maximum Benefits for Injured Workers
The seasoned Maryland Workers’ Compensation lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton have been handling Workers’ Compensation cases for more than three decades. We have also provided compassionate, skilled representation for families of employees who died as a result of workplace accidents. We can make it easier for you to file a claim by navigating the Maryland Workers’ Compensation system for you. Call us today at 844-556-4LAW (4529) or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Baltimore, we serve clients throughout Maryland.