Even the safest and most efficient employee is at risk for injury. When an accident happens at work, employees can seek accident benefits to take care of their medical expenses and lost wages. Unfortunately, filing for and receiving those benefits isn’t always an easy task; but that’s where we come in.
When you’ve been injured on the job, researching your rights can be overwhelming and confusing. If you don’t know where to turn, a Baltimore workers’ compensation lawyer from Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC can explain your options and help you file a claim. Doing so is the first step toward receiving the benefits you need to recover and get your life back in order. We’re not afraid to stand up for your rights and ensure you have access to the compensation you rightfully deserve.
What Is Workers’ Compensation?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 2.9 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses occurred in the private industry in 2019. Fatal workplace injuries and illnesses tallied at 5,190. The majority of these injuries, illnesses, and deaths occurred in five private industry sectors: healthcare, construction, wholesale trade, manufacturing, and retail trade.
Injured employees aren’t left to deal with workplace injuries on their own. Workers’ compensation (sometimes referred to as workman’s compensation) systems exist as a form of insurance. They provide medical benefits and wage replacement to injured employees. Typically, once the benefits have been accepted, the employee is required to waive their right to sue their employer for tort of negligence.
Employers’ Liability Compensation in Maryland
According to the United States Department of Labor, Maryland has awarded over $20 million to injured employees. You may be eligible for benefits if you suffered on-the-job injuries; however, the compensation doesn’t cover all workplace injuries.
The Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission states the employee must have suffered an “accidental injury arising out of and in the course of employment.” In other words, your injuries must satisfy specific criteria in order to be considered compensable. They must be the result of an accident, arise out of employment, which relates to tasks and equipment for the job, or arise in the course of employment, which relates to areas that aren’t the person’s specific duties or are from the negligence of others.
According to Maryland law, an accident is an unusual event that occurs suddenly and results in an unanticipated injury or illness. There are certain exceptions for injuries like hernias or occupational diseases. Poor workplace conditions can cause occupational diseases. If workers are in an area that’s dangerous, they may eventually experience health complications.
Asbestos exposure can cause serious illnesses years after the exposure occurred. If a worker was removing asbestos or worked in an environment that had asbestos-containing materials, they may receive a cancer diagnosis later.
It’s important that you understand how the process works. Our attorneys can explain the steps you need to take and can provide guidance, so everything is done properly. Let’s take a look at when you should file a workers’ compensation claim.
When to File a Comp Claim
There are a number of factors that go into knowing when to file for workman’s comp. First, you need to ensure you are eligible. The basic requirements for eligibility include you being an employee, having a work-related injury or illness, meeting the deadlines for reporting the injury and filing the claim, and your employer carrying workers’ compensation insurance. If you meet those qualifications, you can proceed with your case.
It’s important to note that even if you meet those qualifications, there are some employees who are exempt under state law. Those individuals include domestic workers, agricultural and farm workers, leased or loaned employees, seasonal or casual workers, and undocumented workers. If you believe you fall into one of those categories, it’s still important to contact a lawyer in Baltimore. We can investigate your situation and do what we can to protect your rights.
To start a claim in Maryland, you must inform your employer of your work injury, orally or in writing, within 10 days of the accident. If a family is filing for compensation because of the death of a loved one, the family must notify the employer within 30 days. In Maryland, independent contractors are typically not eligible for any kind of benefits because they don’t have an employer.
When your lawyer files for you or for your deceased family member, you must include the following information:
- Your/the deceased’s name
- Your/the deceased’s permanent address
- The specific time and place of your/the deceased’s injury
- The nature and cause of your/the deceased’s injury
- Your signature
If you’ve suffered an occupational disease, you have one year after your diagnosis to report it to your employer. If you miss the deadlines to file for either, you may render yourself ineligible for any benefits. Your workers’ comp lawyer will ensure all deadlines are met so you can focus on recovering, instead of worrying about the legal process.
Now that you know more about filing, you’re probably wondering about what qualifies for your workman’s compensation. Let’s go over what injuries can happen in the workplace and the different industries where these injuries are most common.
Injuries Covered by Workplace Accident Claims
The injuries employees sustain at work vary greatly depending on where they work, what type of work they’re doing, and how maintained their environment is. While employees in many industries file workers’ compensation claims, it’s important to recognize certain job industries that pose higher risks of injury than others. Those industries include:
- Healthcare. Healthcare professionals often face injuries such as repetitive stress, overexertion, sprains, infections, and even head injuries. Demanding workloads and issues with patients often result in injuries. They could also suffer from slip and fall injuries from hazardous work environments.
- Construction. Construction laborers often use heavy equipment that can result in severe injury if used incorrectly. When you add in scaffolding, ladders, and other work equipment the danger factor increases. You increase your chances of falling and becoming seriously injured. There could also be burn injuries if a construction worker encounters faulty wiring.
- Manufacturing. Most injuries in the manufacturing field are strains or sprains; however, more severe injuries can occur while working with large equipment and standing for long hours.
- Finance and Insurance. While the world of finance may seem like an unsuspecting industry for injuries, it was the only industry to see a rise in workers’ compensation claims in 2016. Many of these were for repetitive stress injuries like carpal tunnel.
- Retail Trade. Musculoskeletal disorders like sprains, back pain, soreness, and carpal tunnel are a risk for retail employees. The strain the work puts on their bodies is underestimated.
- Wholesale Trade. Wholesale and retail trade account for approximately 13 percent of the workforce. The wholesale trade sees a disproportionate number of injuries, given the size of the workforce. Just in 2016, 19 percent of the wholesale trade laborers filed for workman’s comp. These injuries were related to musculoskeletal disorders, slips, trips, and falls, and motor vehicle-related injuries.
As a result of accidents in the industries mentioned above, the following injuries are common and often covered by workmen’s comp benefits:
- Slips, trips, falls
- Struck by object
- Highway accident
- Machinery incidents
- Repetitive motion injury
You may still be eligible for benefits and compensation if an injury happened in a different industry. Our workers’ compensation lawyers will be able to evaluate your claims and injuries and help you determine how best to proceed.
Injuries Not Covered by Workers’ Comp
There are some common situations that fall outside the realm of workers’ comp because of their relationship to employment. If you sustained injuries during any other of the following situations, it’s best to consult a Baltimore attorney to find out if you are eligible for benefits.
- Recreational Activities. Many workplaces offer team building and recreational activities like company picnics, holiday parties, or happy hours. If the event is voluntary and only for the employee’s benefit, it’s likely it’s not covered under workers’ comp laws. If, however, if it is a required event, the employer benefits from the employee’s attendance, or the activity occurs at the workplace during business hours, compensation may be available.
- Commuting. Generally, travel to and from your worksite is not within the scope of employment. This means you are not covered under employment law if a car hits you during your regular morning commute. If, however, you drive a company car, are running an errand for work, or do not have a fixed worksite, you may be covered.
- Substance Abuse or Intoxication. Benefits are not for people who drank or did drugs while working. Depending on the situation, intoxication can be difficult for an employer to prove.
- Fighting or Horseplay. Horseplay and practical jokes fall outside the scope of employment; however, you may be eligible for benefits if your employer tolerated ongoing horseplay or you were an innocent bystander. Fights or altercations are generally not covered unless you are hit by a co-worker regarding a work-related matter.
Our lawyers are familiar with the myriad ways that someone can get hurt at work. If you have any questions about an accident or injuries that you sustained while working, a Baltimore workers’ compensation attorney from Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC is ready to answer them. We can go over what happened to you, if the injury is covered by workman’s compensation benefits, and how you can move forward from there.
Unfortunately, some accidents may cause injuries that will take a significant time to heal or they may cause permanent damage. If an injury causes disability, there are benefits you may be eligible for that will help you during this time. Let’s look into those different types of benefits.
Workers’ Disability Claim Benefits
When you’re seeking disability claim benefits, one of our workers’ compensation attorneys can help maximize your compensation. This is one of the more serious outcomes of a workplace injury, so it’s vital that you do everything you can to show that you were injured because of a legitimate workplace injury.
When an injury results in a disability, it can be difficult to come to terms with. Your disability may affect your job and you may not be able to return to the workforce at all. These major changes will also likely need significant care to treat the injuries and also to maintain quality of life in the future.
While these expenses can seem like a lot to take on at once, especially if you’re unable to work, that’s where our lawyers step in. We’ll fight for you to receive the benefits you deserve so you’re able to recover and have a high quality of life.
Your lawyer can explain the benefits you are eligible to recover. Maryland breaks compensation down into four categories: temporary total disability, temporary partial disability, permanent total disability, and permanent partial disability.
Temporary Disability and Benefits
Maryland breaks temporary disability down into two types: Temporary Total Disability (TTD) and Temporary Partial Disability (TPD). The classification depends on the severity and type of injury.
You may be eligible for temporary benefits if your work injury only requires you to miss a couple of weeks of work or more. Benefits could include money for your lost income and medical bills.
TPD refers to an injury that does not result in complete disability but will prevent you from doing your normal work duties for a period of time. TTD is for injuries that will prevent you from working while you’re recovering.
If you’ve broken a bone, have a concussion, or have a short-term illness, then you may be eligible for temporary disability.
Long-Term or Permanent Disability and Benefits
Unfortunately, some on-the-job injuries are so severe that they will have a lifelong impact. There are two permanent disability categories: Permanent Total Disability (PTD) and Permanent Partial Disability (PPD). PTD is the most severe and could result in loss of limbs or traumatic brain injury. PPD, while still serious, is an impairment, but not complete disablement.
Depending on the severity of your accident and the nature of your claim, you may be eligible for indefinite medical treatments and compensation to cover any of the following:
- Crutches or wheelchairs
- Hospital visits
- Medical attendance
- Medical or surgical treatment
- Nursing services
- Prosthetic appliances
When you get an injury that results in permanent disability, you may not automatically know what your recovery will entail. As you progress and the nature of your injury becomes apparent, you will know more about the medical treatment or equipment you’ll need in the future. That’s why it’s important to have a Baltimore workers’ compensation attorney advocating for you. We’ll keep record of the financial losses your injury caused and the costs you’ll incur. You deserve to have access to the care you need without worrying about other financial responsibilities—you shouldn’t have to choose between medical care and putting food on the table.
Wage Reimbursement Benefits
As you’re recovering and going through this process, you’re likely going to miss work. This can create additional stress while you’re trying to heal from your injuries. You may be depending on that paycheck to manage your living expenses and to keep up with your medical bills.
In addition to any compensation for your medical bills and expenses, you may be entitled to reimbursement for any or all lost wages during your recovery period, including time spent at hearings in court. If your case proceeds to court, it’s common to feel intimidated at the thought of stating your case in the courtroom. Our lawyers have years of experience with cases that have gone to court and we’ll be able to help you prepare for this process. We’ll go over what you can expect, what you’ll need to do, and how to best represent yourself. You’ll feel confident and ready for when you go to court.
What Should You Do After a Workplace Accident?
When you’ve been injured on the job, you may feel shocked at the accident that just occurred. They’re often unexpected and can only take a couple of seconds before you’ve sustained a serious injury. While your emotions will likely be heightened in this scenario, it’s important to remain calm and take steps to protect your health and your future workers’ compensation claim.
- Tell your employer what happened. They need to be informed of the incident as quickly as possible. Write a report of the accident detailing the events that led up to it and the injuries that resulted.
- Record evidence. It’s important to record any evidence at the accident scene because it could help your claim. If you take photographs of the accident scene, you’ll preserve evidence of the conditions that led to your injuries.
- Seek medical attention. It’s possible that your injuries may be more severe than you realize. After an accident occurs, you may be feeling the effects of adrenaline or other shock responses. These chemicals can mask symptoms of your injuries. When you see a doctor, you’re going to be able to get a full assessment of your injuries. This will also benefit your claim because it shows that your injuries were severe enough that you required a doctor’s visit.
- Keep a personal record. As you’re living with your injury or illness, it may help to keep a record of how your life has been affected. You may need to miss work while you recover, you may feel pain regularly from the injuries, and you may have appointments to see doctors or specialists as part of your recovery. It’s important to keep this record private—avoid posting anything on social media.
- Keep social media private. Keeping your social media accounts private and also avoiding talking about your accident and injuries will help you protect your case and you won’t have to worry about revealing any information that could impact your future.
- Hire a lawyer. One of the best ways to protect your claim is to speak with a skilled Baltimore workers’ compensation lawyer from Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC. We can advise you on what information the insurance company will need so you don’t accidentally jeopardize your filing.
It’s also common to wonder if you need a lawyer at all. Many people may think that when they’re injured at work, they’ll file their workers’ compensation claim, and then they’ll receive the benefits. However, this may not be how every case goes.
There may be instances of you not getting the benefits you deserve, or your case may be denied for certain reasons. When you have a professional at your side, you have someone well-versed in law and will know what you’re eligible to recover. Let’s look further into the advantages of having an attorney at your side.
The Difference Between a Work Injury and Workers’ Comp
Even though they sound similar, a work injury and workers’ comp are two different situations that you could find yourself in after being injured on the job. Depending on your injuries, damages, and fault, it might be more beneficial for you to file for one over the other. The main factor that will determine which to file will be fault.
In workman’s compensation cases, fault isn’t determined. A worker doesn’t need to be able to prove that their employer, a third-party contractor, or a coworker caused their accident and subsequent injury while on the job site. Victims of on-the-job injuries who file for these benefits are mostly seeking to recover costs for medical care and lost wages from the injury and are not focused on recovering any other kinds of damages. In these cases, it helps to have an attorney, but is not necessary.
In a work injury claim, though, workers are typically trying to recover more than just economic damages. With the help of a workplace injury lawyer, the main focus of your case will be proving fault for your accident that happened on the job and the injuries and other damages you suffered. When filing for a work injury, you’ll want to have an attorney to help you prove fault and ensure that you get the financial compensation that you deserve for your injuries. Through this kind of case, you can recover damages for medical bills and lost wages, but you can also recover noneconomic damages for pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and loss of enjoyment of life.
Even though workers’ comp seems straight forward, and work injuries seem more complex, hiring a lawyer is your best option because they’ll understand what you need to prove and what you deserve in compensation. Both scenarios can be confusing, so if you have any questions about which type of claim to file, an attorney from Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC can answer any question you have.
The Benefits of Hiring an Experienced Lawyer
You may have heard of individuals representing themselves for their workers’ compensation cases. Even in the most uncomplicated situations, it’s always a good idea to seek guidance from an experienced law firm. An attorney can walk you through the claims process, alert you of any possible hiccups, and give you an honest idea of the outcome based on what they’ve seen in the past and their knowledge of the law.
Knowing when to hire a workers’ comp lawyer is crucial, as waiting too long could jeopardize your benefits. There are also unexpected situations that could arise with your compensation claim. When these cases get complex, having a lawyer to explain what’s happening and answer your questions can help you get the benefits you deserve. Consider getting in touch with us if you find yourself in any of the following circumstances:
- You are planning on filing a workplace accident claim after sustaining an injury at work.
- Your employer or insurance company denies your claim.
- Your employer attempts to modify or stop your benefits.
- Your employer asks you to make an appointment with a specific doctor or attend a medical examination separate from the one you reported to them.
- There was a third party involved in your injury—which could result in an additional settlement.
- You already collect additional benefits like social security disability.
We will guide you through every step of the compensation process. It’s best to contact us as soon as possible after sustaining your injury. This is because many deadlines are involved with filing paperwork. We will make sure your benefits are not jeopardized in any way.
In addition to promptly meeting all deadlines, your lawyer can help you compile the medical evidence and documents needed to prove the severity of your condition. Many unrepresented claimants choose to rely on independent physicians who perform exams for insurance companies. This mistake can cost you greatly. After evaluating the circumstances revolving around your work accident, the injury itself, and the related costs, we will make sure you receive a reasonable and accurate settlement offer.
Get Back on Your Feet With Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC
The hardworking citizens of Maryland deserve to have someone they can turn to when they need assistance. While not all workplace accidents need the full counsel of a lawyer, it never hurts to seek guidance. Whether you have recently been injured or are considering reopening a case for a worsening condition, our attorneys can help.
A workers’ compensation lawyer from Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC can additionally provide assistance if you’re having difficulty filing a claim or if your workplace is refusing to let you file. We have a proven track record for getting injured employees and their families the compensation they deserve. We’re ready to advocate for your rights and get you the benefits you need. We take on cases in Baltimore and the surrounding areas. Contact us for more information.