Going to work shouldn’t mean risking your health, safety, or wellbeing. Despite this, approximately 62,600 workers in Maryland suffered nonfatal on-the-job injuries and illnesses in 2017 alone.
When you’ve been hurt on the job and can no longer work, you need access to benefits that will address your lost wages and cover related medical expenses. Determining whether you are covered under Maryland workers’ compensation is just the first step to securing the benefits to which you are entitled.
Which Employers Are Required To Maintain Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
In Maryland, every business with one or more employees is required by law to maintain workers’ compensation insurance coverage. This rule applies to both part-time and full-time employees. Exceptions to our state’s rules for workers’ compensation insurance include:
- Agricultural businesses with an annual payroll of less than $15,000 or fewer than three employees
- Sole proprietorships
- Independent contractors
- Partners in business partnerships
What Workers Are Covered Under Maryland Workers’ Compensation?
If you are an employee of a non-agricultural business, you should be able to access workers’ compensation benefits in the event that you suffer a work-related injury. Keep in mind that contract workers are typically ineligible for benefits, though.
How To Tell if You Are an Employee or a Contract Worker
An employee is a worker who is on a company’s payroll and who receives both benefits and wages for performing work according to their employer’s instructions and requirements.
An independent contractor is an independent worker who receives wages but no benefits and has greater flexibility over their work.
Unsure whether you’re an employee or an independent contractor? Let’s take a closer look at the differences between the two.
- Works hours set by their employer
- Is eligible for benefits, including health care coverage, paid time off, and retirement benefits
- Works in a setting set by their employer, whether that is in an office or remotely at home
An independent contractor:
- Can often set their own hours and days
- Is ineligible for benefits
- May be able to work from whatever location they wish
Employees and independent contractors also receive different tax documents. Employers provide their employees with W-2s, while independent contractors receive 1099s. These documents show your wages and other compensation you’ve received and are necessary for filing annual income taxes.
Am I Covered Under Maryland Workers’ Compensation?
Taking the above information into consideration, you can answer the following two questions to determine whether you are covered by workers’ compensation in the state of Maryland:
- Am I an employee or an independent contractor?
- Is my employer an agricultural business with fewer than three employees or less than $15,000 in payroll costs?
If you answered “employee” to the first question and “no” to the second, you are covered by workers’ compensation insurance and are entitled to benefits should you be injured in a work-related capacity.
Injuries Covered by Workers’ Compensation
Maryland has a relatively narrow view of which injuries are covered by workers’ compensation. As outlined in §9-101 of state law, an injured worker is only entitled to benefits for:
- “An accidental injury that arises out of and in the course of employment”
- “An injury caused by a willful or negligent act of a third person directed against a covered employee in the course of the employment of the covered employee”
This means that in order to be eligible for compensation, you must have been actually performing your job at the time of your injury, such as while completing work tasks or as a result of work-related duties.
Occupational illnesses (including those caused by exposure to toxic chemicals) are also covered by workers’ comp. These cases often involve occupational diseases that have developed weeks, months, or even years after leaving a job and require the carefully trained eye of a workers’ compensation attorney to properly investigate.
The Most Dangerous Industries for Workers in Maryland
In Maryland, we are known for our beautiful foliage, blue crabs, and vibrant fishing industry. The jobs associated with these industries can be dangerous, though, putting individuals in harm’s way on a regular basis. According to the Maryland Department of Labor and additional research, the following are some of Maryland’s most dangerous industries based on the total number of injuries and workplace fatalities:
- Transportation and warehousing
- Agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting
- Arts, entertainment, and recreation
- Wholesale trade
- Health care
While any worker in any industry can suffer a serious on-the-job injury, employees in the above industries are much more likely to be hurt or killed while at work.
How To Lower Your Risk of a Workplace Injury
It is an employer’s responsibility to create and maintain a safe working environment by implementing necessary safety measures, training new employees, providing continuing on-the-job training to existing employees, and ensuring that all workers have access to necessary personal protective equipment (PPE).
However, as a worker, you can also take action to improve workplace safety and lower your risk of suffering a serious injury:
- Get enough sleep before clocking in
- Take time off after a minor injury, like a sprain or strain
- Report any workplace safety violations to your employer
- Elevate workplace safety concerns by filing a complaint with Maryland Occupational Safety and Health (MOSH)
- Check all PPE for damage before use
Even small actions can lower and limit your risk of suffering a serious workplace injury. Collaborate with co-workers and create a culture of safety in which everyone looks out for the wellbeing of those they work with.
What To Do if You Suffer a Work Injury in Maryland
When you are injured in a workplace in Maryland, the steps that you take afterward will affect your ability to secure workers’ compensation benefits. To preserve your right to compensation, you should:
- Report your injury to your employer. You have only 10 days from the accident or onset of your injury to tell your employer about your injury.
- Fill out an accident report. Your employer may request that you fill out an accident report. Stick to the facts, and do not offer additional information that is unnecessary or irrelevant to your injury.
- Seek medical attention. Your health and safety should always be your number one priority. Be sure to seek medical care for your work injury as soon as possible.
- Meet with a workers’ compensation lawyer. An attorney will have the insight and experience needed to help you build a strong case.
Should you choose to move forward with your workers’ comp claim without the guidance of a lawyer, don’t be alarmed if your first attempt at securing benefits is denied. Workers’ compensation claims are notoriously difficult, and many claims are initially denied.
If your first workers’ comp claim was denied, an attorney from Belsky & Horowitz, LLC will help you navigate the appeals process.
Belsky & Horowitz, LLC Are Powerful Advocates for Injury Victims
Some employers count on their workers being unfamiliar with workers’ compensation law, using this as grounds to deny them the coverage to which they are entitled. As injury attorneys who have committed our legal careers to helping those who have been injured through no fault of their own, we believe that it is important for every worker to be able to answer the question, “Am I covered under Maryland workers’ compensation?”
Our legal team extends free initial consultations and case evaluations to injury victims in Maryland, including in Baltimore, Baltimore County, and the surrounding area. If you have a question about your eligibility for workers’ compensation or want to learn about your legal rights after a work accident, contact our law office today.
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