The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in 2016 that 2.9 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses occurred in the private industry. Fatal workplace injuries and illnesses tallied at 5,190. The majority of these injuries, illnesses, and deaths occurred in these five private industry sectors: healthcare, construction, wholesale trade, manufacturing, and retail trade.
Workers’ compensation commercials and ads are scoured all over the television and internet, and if you try to research the compensation laws yourself it can be overwhelming and confusing – especially if you’re suffering from an injury. But if you know you’d been injured at work and don’t know where to turn, our Baltimore workers’ compensation lawyers are here for you.
Workers’ Compensation in Maryland
According to the United States Department of Labor, Maryland has awarded over $20 million in workers’ compensation. If you are injured on the job in Maryland, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits; however, not all workplace injuries are covered.
Maryland’s workers’ compensation laws state the employee must have suffered an “accidental injury arising out of and in the course of employment” in order to be eligible for benefits. 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 defined as 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. An occupational disease is one that has been caused by the conditions of the workplace, like exposure to asbestos.
Getting Injured on the Job
While workers’ compensation claims are filed for a variety of job types, it’s important to recognize certain job industries that pose higher risks of injury than others.
- Healthcare. Healthcare professionals often face injuries such as repetitive stress, overexertion, sprains, infections, and even head injuries. These injuries are often the result of a demanding workload and issues with patients.
- Construction. Construction laborers often use heavy equipment that can result in severe injury if used incorrectly. These jobs are even more dangerous when you add in scaffolding, ladders, and other work equipment. You increase your chances of falling and becoming seriously injured with work like that.
- 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 claims were for repetitive stress injuries like carpal tunnel.
- Retail Trade. Retail workers are often at risk for musculoskeletal disorders like sprains, back pain, soreness and carpal tunnel. Their daily tasks are often underestimated in regard to the strain it puts on their bodies.
- 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 workers’ comp. These injuries were related to musculoskeletal disorders, slips, trips, and falls, and motor vehicle-related injuries.
Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Whether you’re suffering from a broken ankle or an injury that requires hospitalization, it’s important to start filing your claim as soon as possible. To start your claim, you must inform your employer of your injury, orally or in writing, within 10 days of the accident. If a family is claiming 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 worker’ comp because they don’t have an employer.
If you are filing your claim, or are a dependent filing a claim for a deceased family member, the following information must be included:
- 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 for either claim, you may render yourself ineligible for any workers’ comp.
Knowing When to Hire an Attorney
You may have heard of individuals representing themselves for their workers’ compensation case. 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 claim 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 lawyer is crucial, as waiting too long could jeopardize your benefits. Consider getting in touch with us if you find yourself in any of the following circumstances:
- You are planning on filing a workers’ compensation 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.
Once you’ve contacted us, 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 of the many deadlines involved with filing paperwork. We will make sure your benefits are not jeopardized in any way.
In addition to ensuring all deadlines are met, we 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 injury, the injury, and the related costs, we will make sure you receive a reasonable and accurate settlement offer.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Maryland
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 injury only requires you miss a couple weeks of work or more. Benefits could include money for your lost income and medical bills.
Long-Term or Permanent Disability and Benefits
Unfortunately, some on-the-job injuries are so severe that they will have a lifelong impact. Permanent disability, like temporary disability, is broken down into two 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 classified as 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
Wage Reimbursement Benefits
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.
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 were injured during any other the following situations, it’s best to consult an 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 will not be 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 considered within the scope of employment. This means that if a car hits you during your regular morning commute, you are not covered under employment law. If, however, you drive a company car, are running an errand for work, or do not have a fixed work site, you may be covered.
- Substance Abuse or Intoxication. In the event you are injured while drinking or abusing drugs at work, you will almost never be covered by workers’ compensation. 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.
Get Legal Help Today
Whether you have recently been injured or are considering reopening a case for worsening conditions, our workers’ compensation attorneys can help. At Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC, we have a proven track record for getting injured workers and their families the benefits they deserve. We take on cases in Baltimore and the surrounding areas. Contact us for more information.