Under the Maryland Workers' Compensation Act, employees who have suffered work-related injuries or illnesses are entitled to the following benefits:
- Prompt coverage of medical expenses, including hospital care, nursing care, medication, crutches, wheelchairs, and prosthetic appliances
- Reimbursement for lost wages, including wages the worker might have earned if not for having to travel to and from a doctor's office or a workers' compensation hearing
- Vocational rehabilitation in the event that the injury or illness prevents the worker from doing the job he or she did before
- Disability benefits, the amount and duration of which depend on the degree and duration of the disability
If you can receive these benefits, they can be extremely helpful while you recover from your injury or get treatment for an occupational disease. However, there may be obstacles between you and the benefits you deserve. For your injury or illness to be covered under workers' compensation, the injury has to meet certain requirements.
For example, it must be determined that the injury occurred in the course of your employment. That means the injury happened while you were doing some job-related duty in a place where you work or where your employer does business.
Maryland law also requires that an injury be an accident for it to be covered under workers' compensation. In other words, the injury must happen unexpectedly as the result of an unusual event that occurs in the course of your employment. The rule is different for occupational diseases, however. An occupational disease is caused by the nature of the work, such as with asbestos removal and its leading to asbestosis or mesothelioma. The illness is not a sudden accident but may still be compensable.
Before the workers' comp system became the norm, injured employees often had to sue their employers to get medical care, and many times the employees lost. Their lives were devastated. Now workers' compensation provides benefits to employees while they recover from an injury or illness. Our workers' compensation website has more on seeking the benefits workers need and deserve.
Source: Maryland Workers' Compensation Commission, "Employee Benefits, Claims & Process," Accessed Aug. 7, 2014