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.
You can see workers’ compensation commercials everywhere, but 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. You may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if you suffered on-the-job injuries; however, workers’ 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 cause an occupational disease, like exposure to asbestos.
Getting Injured on the Job
While various people file workers’ compensation claims, 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. Demanding workloads and issues with patients often result in injuries.
- 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 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. 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 workers’ comp. These injuries were related to musculoskeletal disorders, slips, trips, and falls, and motor vehicle-related injuries.
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.
Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim with an Experienced Lawyer
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. The process is intricate, so you’ll benefit from getting in touch with a workers’ compensation lawyer 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.
When your lawyer files the claim 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 for either claim, you may render yourself ineligible for any workers’ comp. Your lawyer will ensure all deadlines are met so you can focus on recovering, instead of worrying about the legal process.
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 our lawyers, 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 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 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. 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
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 sustained injuries 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’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 work site, you may be covered.
- Substance Abuse or Intoxication. Workers’ compensation 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.
Get Help Today
While not all workplace accidents need the full counsel of a lawyer, it never hurts to ask. Whether you have recently been injured or are considering reopening a case for worsening conditions, our attorneys can help. At Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC, our workers’ compensation lawyers have a proven track record for getting injured workers and their families the compensation they deserve. We take on cases in Baltimore and the surrounding areas. Contact us for more information.