If you were asked to describe situations that may allow you to secure workers’ compensation benefits in Baltimore, you might describe a condition with a sudden onset, like:
- A slip and fall injury sustained by a worker on a slippery bathroom floor
- An employee who’s struck by a falling object dropped by a fellow construction worker overhead
- A worker who gets hurt in a car accident while making a sales call for their job
- A situation where an employee gets an arm caught in a piece of machinery at their manufacturing job
There are countless other types of injuries that can leave someone hurt, though.
Some of the worst workplace injuries are those where you don’t experience any immediate signs of harm, yet they hurt you nonetheless. These cumulative injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, cause incremental harm, sometimes leaving victims pain-free until they ultimately rear their ugly heads and start causing debilitating symptoms. Other injuries you might have sustained a long time ago, and they might have been “aggravated” in your new job role.
A recently published National Institutes of Health (NIH) report suggests that at least 21% of American adults suffer from chronic pain, and at least 8% experience high-impact chronic pain. If you’re suffering debilitating symptoms associated with a chronic condition that has worsened in your current job role, you may be wondering if you qualify to receive workers’ compensation benefits in Maryland. That’s what we’ll address below.
What Type of Pain Is Classified as Chronic?
The primary factor that impacts where the boundary lies between what’s a typical amount of pain associated with a condition and a chronic manifestation of it has to do with when the healing period for it would typically be over. If it extends far beyond when you should typically have improved from your injury or illness, then the pain may be deemed chronic.
Johns Hopkins Medicine supports this and another way of this type of discomfort, which is to also describe it as accompanying (or occurring concurrently with) a chronic health condition, such as arthritis.
Thus, if we’re trying to define chronic injuries, a good starting point may be to look at conditions that cause patients to experience persistent pain.
What Are Examples of Chronic Injuries Maryland Workers Experience?
Now that we’re clear about what constitutes chronic pain, let’s highlight some of the many different occupational illnesses or injuries that can cause a Baltimore worker to experience physical discomfort that persists long after they should have presumably recovered from their condition, or that accompanies a chronically debilitating condition. Those diagnoses may include:
- Cancer, such as mesothelioma
- A herniated disc, pinched nerve, or another type of back injury
- Arthritis, such as bursitis or tendonitis
- A repetitive stress injury, like carpal tunnel syndrome
- Phantom pain associated with an amputation
- Broken bones or crush injuries
- Severed organs
Do Chronic Injuries Qualify You To File for Workers’ Compensation?
The Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC) is clear in saying that an employee may be eligible to file a workers’ comp claim if they experience the onset of an injury while performing their work-related tasks. However, another description chronicles how occupational diseases, such as lung disease and eye or skin conditions stemming from an employee’s work (despite not being associated with a sudden accident), are also generally covered by workers’ compensation benefits in Maryland.
Steps You Should Take if Suffering From Chronic Pain To Build a Solid Workers’ Comp Claim
Documentation is key in chronic injury types of workers’ compensation cases. Medical records that detail how your condition stabilized for some time and then started deteriorating once again as you continued to work in your current role can be helpful. Additionally, any similar documentation that shows that the progression of your symptoms coincides with your tenure in your job may also be critical.
Medical records aside, maintaining a pain diary can be helpful in building your case.
In terms of a chronic pain diary, some details you may want to note in it include:
- A daily accounting of the severity of your pain using a 1 to 10 scale, including how it’s manifesting itself and the activities you’re engaging in when it’s at its worst
- An account of not just the physical toll but also the mental one your chronic pain has taken on you
- Any interventions you’ve undergone, whether it’s taking medication, receiving physical therapy, or undergoing surgery to help alleviate your symptoms
This type of data may prove critical should your workers’ compensation insurer attempt to deny your claim on the grounds that it’s not work-related or there’s an attempt to settle your case for far less than your situation (like a poor daily quality of life) warrants.
When Should You Get an Attorney Involved in Pursuing Workers’ Comp Benefits in Maryland?
Generally, most employees can count on their employers to be forthright in providing them with any necessary details about how to file a workers’ comp claim because they understand there are implications associated with not doing so. After all, it’s mandatory for most employers in Maryland to have such coverage, and most workers are entitled to those benefits.
However, in some cases, employers may play hardball. Additionally, their workers’ comp insurer may do the same. In either case, it’s not uncommon for either party to deny a claim.
It may be necessary for attorneys like ours at Belsky & Horowitz, LLC to bring physicians or other medical providers into cases to prove causation between the onset of your medical diagnosis and your job role if the connection isn’t immediately apparent in cases like those. This is just one example of how a lawyer may be valuable as you look to secure workers’ compensation benefits for your chronic workplace injury or illness. There are countless other scenarios when having legal counsel to support you may be wise as well.
Please reach out to schedule a free consultation if you face any challenges along the way in pursuing the workers’ comp benefits that you’re rightfully entitled to.