Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers
Workers’ Compensation Process
If you are injured in a workplace accident, or believe that your job caused you to become sick, you may be entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits. Though you are not required to retain a Workers’ Compensation lawyer to help you file a claim, it is highly recommended. A Workers’ Compensation lawyer in Baltimore can take the pressure off of you and your family by making sure that important deadlines are not missed, and that mistakes are not made that may cause a delay or denial of your benefits. Keep in mind that every case is unique. If you have questions about your Workers’ Compensation claim, the Law Offices of LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton is your best resource for finding the answers you need. Below, we have outlined what you need to know if you have been hurt on the job.
Notify your Employer
Report a workplace accident injury or occupational disease to your employer immediately, preferably in writing. A delay of this important first step could affect your eligibility for benefits. Upon your notification, your employer will file a First Report of Injury with the Workers’ Compensation Commission detailing the specifics of your injury or illness.
Seek Medical Attention
If your injuries are life threatening, go to the hospital immediately. Otherwise, it is best to see a doctor as soon as possible so that your injuries can be well documented. Fortunately, Maryland law affords you the right to choose your own doctor, hospital, or specialist. You are not required to see the medical practitioner suggested by your employer or their insurance carrier. In fact, it is recommended that you do not, as their interests are aligned with the insurance company, not with you.
Avoid giving a statement to your employer’s insurance company before hiring, or at least speaking to, a qualified Baltimore Workers’ Compensation lawyer. The insurance company is in business to save your employer money by denying or limiting your benefits. Insurance adjusters know the law and are skilled at getting information from you that can be used to reduce the amount of your benefits. Do not allow yourself to give away more information than is necessary.
File a Workers’ Compensation Claim
The next step is submitting the Employee Claim Form. This form can be prepared and submitted online independently or with the assistance of an attorney. Once the form is filed electronically, you must print, sign, and mail the form to the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission. As long as the form is fully completed with no information missing, the claim will be processed in two to three days and your employer will be given a “consideration date” by which any objections or issues your employer or their insurance carrier must be raised. Provided there are no objections, you should receive your first Workers’ Compensation award within 30 days of the time you filed your claim.
The Healing Period
During the time you are unable to work, you are entitled to paid compensation up to two-thirds of your average weekly wage. This is known as temporary total disability. If you are able to return to a lighter duty position or work fewer hours per week, you may receive temporary partial disability. In this case, you may claim 50% of the difference between your average weekly wage before your injury and your pay rate while you are on restricted duty.
Once it is determined that you have reached maximum medical improvement (meaning no further healing or improvement is expected) your temporary disability payments will stop, whether or not you have returned to work. This can be one of the trickiest issues in Workers’ Compensation. Your treating physician normally is the one to declare the date by which you have achieved maximum medical improvement, but his or her opinion may be challenged by the insurance carrier, who can request further review by an independent medical examiner. Following the termination of temporary disability, you may be eligible for any of the following:
- Vocational rehabilitation – a vocational counselor will assist you in training for and securing another job, possibly in another industry.
- Permanent partial disability payments – the amount of compensation depends on the degree of permanent disability.
- Permanent total disability payments – compensation awarded when injuries prevent you from ever returning to work of any kind.
- Lump sum settlement – accepting a lump sum settlement at any point during a Workers’ Compensation process may be beneficial in some situations, but you should always talk to an attorney before choosing to settle as it may forfeit your right to future claims.
If at any time your employer or their insurance carrier files issues or objections to your claim, you will receive notice in writing and the Workers’ Compensation Commission will schedule a hearing. The hearing will normally take place within three months of the date requested. At the hearing, the Commissioner will listen to your testimony and review evidence from all respective parties. Evidence typically includes written testimony by witnesses, doctors’ reports, and possibly evidence gathered by private investigators. A decision will not be announced at the hearing. You will receive a written order by mail usually within one to three weeks following your hearing.
Appealing a Workers’ Compensation Commission Decision
If you disagree with the Commissioner’s decision or believe a mistake was made, you have 30 days from the date the order was mailed to file an appeal with the appropriate Circuit Court, requesting either a trial by jury or a judge’s decision. Appeals are generally much more complicated and time consuming than the first hearing and since the burden of proof falls to the side appealing the case, it is strongly recommended to have a Workers’ Compensation lawyer represent you if you do not have one already.
Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Assist Injured Workers in Obtaining Workers’ Compensation Benefits
If you are suffering from a workplace accident injury or occupational illness, trying to handle your own Workers’ Compensation claim can seem complicated and at times, overwhelming. One mistake made at any time throughout the process could lead to a denial of the benefits you so desperately need. Let the experienced Baltimore Workers’ Compensation lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton ease your burden by handling your case so that you can focus on your recovery. We are committed to helping injured workers get the maximum amount of benefits in the shortest amount of time and with the least amount of stress.
Call 844-556-4LAW (4529) today to schedule your free consultation with one of our highly qualified Baltimore Workers’ Compensation lawyers or contact us online. Our offices are located in Baltimore, Maryland and we represent clients throughout the state of Maryland.