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, our Baltimore workers’ compensation lawyers 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 workers aren’t left alone to deal with workplace injuries on their own. A workers’ compensation system is in place in each state. While the laws vary, the general concept is the same. The system is a form of insurance. It provides 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 cause an occupational disease, like exposure to asbestos.
When to File a Comp Claim
There are a number of factors that go into knowing when to file a workplace accident claim. 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 claim.
It’s important to note that even if you meet those qualifications, there are some workers 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. We can investigate your situation and protect your rights.
To start a claim in Maryland, 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.
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.
- 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.
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 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 worksite, 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.
Maximizing Workers’ Disability Claim Benefits
In order to get the most out of your workers’ disability benefits, you’ll want to start by seeking medical attention immediately after the accident. This will ensure accurate records are in place that prove you were injured. If you delay in getting medical care, the insurance company has greater reason to deny your claim.
After you’ve sought treatment, notify your employer. There’s no reason to put off telling your boss you were hurt on the job. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to build a legitimate claim. After you’ve done that, you’ll want to get in touch with a lawyer and work on filing your claim. Your attorney will ensure all deadlines are met and all the appropriate paperwork has been filled out and submitted.
In addition to the tips above, you need to understand which benefits you are eligible for. 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 injury only requires you miss a couple of 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.
The Benefits of Hiring an Experienced Lawyer
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 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 injury, the injury, 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
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 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.