If you are injured at work, Maryland Worker's Compensation laws mandate that your employer must pay for medical expenses necessary to treat the injury, including therapy and work hardening. Employers are also required to continue to pay you a percentage of your average weekly wage in the event that you are unable to keep working on either a full duty or light duty basis.
The first step in the worker's compensation claim process is to notify your employer/manager of your injury. Your co-workers may have seen you fall or hit your head on that low hanging equipment shelf; but don't rely on them to inform your supervisor or boss. Once notified of the work injury, your employer should contact his or her worker's compensation insurance company to report the incident. An insurance adjuster is likely to reach out to you regarding your workplace injury. If they believe that the injury is "compensable," then worker's compensation benefits should start, including wages for lost time. But beware: insurance adjusters are not going to go out of their way to inform you of all the benefits available to you.
However, if the employer or insurer contest your worker's compensation claim and refuse benefits, then you will need to file your Claim Form with the Maryland Worker's Compensation Commission. If you can follow the Maryland Worker's Compensation Commission's instructions online, then the filing looks easy enough, but beware: the form must be filled out completely and accurately. Pay special attention to the date/time of the workplace accident, the description of the incident, and which parts of your body were injured. Don't just say "left leg" if you also injured your left ankle, hip or foot. Also, note that there is a statute of limitations after which, with few exceptions, you will lose any right to claim worker's compensation benefits.
Once the Commission receives your work injury Claim Form, they will notify the employer/insurer and allow them time to respond and contest the charges. Once the employer answers, the matter is set in for an administrative hearing in front of a Maryland Worker's Compensation commissioner who will hear testimony and any written evidence regarding your alleged workplace injury. If the commissioner sides with you, then the company must either start benefits or appeal to a Maryland Circuit Courtfor review of the commissioner's decision. If your employer/insurer wins the case, then your right to appeal accrues (which you must do within thirty days of the Commissioner's decision or lose your right to appeal forever).
During all of this time, you are responsible for seeking proper medical care and treatment, and may be held responsible for payment if you don't ultimately succeed with your Maryland work injury claim.
Schifanelli Law, LLP
Contact US (410) 263-0028
Fortunately, most workplace injuries in Maryland are minor, and the injured worker can return to work more or less immediately or after a day or two if off site treatment is necessary. However, more serious accidents or work-related conditions can result in the worker being unable to return to work for three days or more. When this occurs, its said that the worker has incurred a temporary total disability as a result of the accident at work, and is prima facie eligible for worker's compensation benefits.
One of these is to receive income during the period of temporary disability. If the employer/insurer don't contest your claim (or if you win your contested hearing, then the insurer must pay you 66% of whatever your average weekly wage was at the time that the disability arose. A few "howevers" - you must get a work restriction note from your doctor or treatment provider stating that you cannot return to work for a specific period (often until the next scheduled follow up). If at the end of that period your doctor still thinks you are unable to return to work, then make sure you get an updated work note(s).
Furthermore, if your doctor restricts you only to "light duty," and your employer does have light duty available, then you must go back to work. The insurer will pay you any difference (decrease) in wages that results.
Too often, even with work restriction notes, the employer's insurance company will want the injured worker to return to work so that they can stop paying both medical bills and compensation. To that end, the insurer will set you up with an "independent medical evaluation" (IME) conducted by a doctor (selected from the company's list) who will do about a ten-minute interview with you, then declare that you have reached "maximum medical improvement" and fit for duty. With this, the insurer will notify you and the Commission that temporary wages have ceased and, unless you successfully challenge the IME provider's findings, you need to go back to work or risk losing your job.
Our representation starts the minute that you come to us for help regarding your work injury - and the sooner the better. Part of the above may sound like the Maryland Worker's Compensation system is "rigged" against you, the worker. It's really not, but without an Annapolis worker's compensation attorney on your side, then it's "business as usual" for the insurance companies: their profits are partly decided by how much they can keep from paying for you. They will use anything you say, or fail to say, against you.
For our Maryland Worker's Compensation lawyers in Annapolis, it's "game on" and we will represent you on a contingency basis that is also regulated by the State worker's compensation laws. So, it you or a loved one is injured, call us quick to make sure that you get the compensation and treatment to which you are entitled under the law.
Contact Schifanelli Law, LLP at 410-263-0028 for an initial consultation with a Lawyer in Annapolis.
2450 Riva Road, Suite 201, Annapolis, Maryland 21401.
Serving the Maryland and Washington D.C. Communities.