Many of us head off to work daily in the Baltimore area, never thinking of potential dangers we may face on the job. While there are certainly some Maryland residents who work in high-risk roles, an overwhelming majority of us wouldn’t classify our jobs as such. However, data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that an estimated 2.6 million private sector workers suffer nonfatal illnesses and injuries annually.
The injuries or illnesses these employees are diagnosed with run the gamut from minor to major and include physical ailments and emotional or behavioral ones. Read on where we’ll highlight qualifying injuries and illnesses for worker’s compensation so you’ll be better informed about your rights if you get hurt on the job in Baltimore.
Common Ways Employees Suffer Injuries at Work in Maryland
There’s not just one type of incident that can cause workers to fall ill or suffer injuries in Baltimore. There are instead multiple accidents that can, such as:
- Motor vehicle accidents: These include car crashes and truck collisions
- Slips and falls: These incidents are common among restaurant and grocery workers or custodians, who must often navigate wet, waxy, debris-strewn, or oily floors, but can also involve a construction worker tasked with working on scaffolding if they lose their footing
- Caught-in, crush, or struck-by incidents: These can be caused by heavy equipment like cranes or forklifts and also machinery used for manufacturing, such as if a limb gets stuck inside when it malfunctions
While many workplace injuries are attributable to a single accident, there are instances in which injuries or illnesses develop over time. Situations that may result in this happening include:
- Toxic exposure: Individuals who work in manufacturing, laboratories, construction, and remediation, as well as miners, oil and gas industry workers, and other positions, may come in contact with a variety of chemicals and other hazardous substances, such as asbestos, during the course of their work, which can cause respiratory infections, cancer, and other debilitating conditions
- Repetitive motion injury incidents: Baristas, warehouse and clerical workers, and jackhammer operators are just some examples of workers who may experience a gradual onset of pain caused by turning, twisting, typing, banging, or using machinery that repeatedly vibrates, causing underlying damage to underlying ligaments and tendons, symptoms which align with repetitive stress injuries
Injuries and Illnesses Covered by Workers’ Compensation
A good rule of thumb is any injuries that occur or illnesses that have an onset during the course of a person’s employment are covered by workers’ comp. That is generally the case whether the onset of the injury or illness occurs at a person’s typical job site or elsewhere, so long as they’re performing work-related tasks.
Some of the most common work-related illnesses or injuries that have an onset in the workplace and generally allow an employee to receive workers’ comp benefits include:
- Blunt force trauma injuries: These are most common among workers employed in the logging industry, mining, warehouses, and construction, where there’s a strong potential of something falling on their heads or otherwise striking them, causing trauma to internal organs and also leaving behind lasting deficits
- Neck and back injuries: Whether you’re employed as a delivery worker that spends all day operating a vehicle and carrying heavy packages to and fro or a construction worker that has the potential of falling off a ladder or getting struck by an object falling from overhead, the risk of neck injuries or spinal cord injuries is high in these professions
- Broken bones: Bone fractures can stem from a variety of injury incidents in the workplace such as crushed by ones, falls from scaffolding, slips, trips, and falls, auto accidents, and more, leaving workers requiring surgery, physical therapy, and other treatments
- Amputations: From car accidents resulting in compression injuries to caught-in incidents caused by malfunctioning machinery, these are two examples of situations that may lead a worker to need a limb amputated
- Mental health concerns: Depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder are all emotional or behavioral health diagnoses workers may receive after witnessing a life-threatening accident or an incident involving workplace violence
- Cancer and other serious illness diagnoses: Exposure to toxic substances, as described above, can plant the proverbial seed for much more serious, chronic illnesses down the road, some of which are treatable and others that cause individuals to die a slow, painful death
Injuries Not Typically Covered by Workers’ Compensation Coverage
Several types of injuries generally aren’t covered by workers’ compensation coverage, including instances in which a worker:
- Had a preexisting condition (one prior to commencing their current job role)
- Receives a diagnosis of an ordinary disease
- Suffers from an isolated, limited time frame illness like a headache or cold
- Took a detour for a personal errand while traveling around for work-related business
- Tripped on a family dog while running to make it to answer a work call while employed remotely
- Experienced an onset of their condition following a natural disaster, also known as an act of God
There are, of course, exceptions to the rules above. For example, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) highlights how a situation in which a worker’s illness or injury is exacerbated (which they refer to as “significantly aggravated”) by an injury event or exposure in their new role, may constitute a work-related injury.
Some workers, such as those who work in the railroad or maritime industries, are subject to different qualifying requirements for federal coverage similar to workers’ comp. For example, the Jones Act applies to crew members, officers, and others who spend 30% of their time at sea on U.S. vessels if they get hurt or fall ill. The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act applies to other maritime workers not protected by the Jones Act. Some of these federal laws afford additional protections to these workers that extend beyond Maryland workers’ compensation laws.
Support Our Maryland Workers’ Compensation Attorneys Provide Our Clients
Generally, Baltimore workers can entrust their employers to do what’s right. This includes taking the initiative to point their employees in the right direction of seeing a doctor, filing a claim, and knowing their rights to take time off and recover lost wages after they get hurt or fall ill. Some rogue employers don’t know or fail to share what needs to happen, though. They often do this because they don’t want to potentially face an OSHA investigation or see their workers’ comp insurance premiums increase. Our lawyers regularly help workers facing such impasses.
It’s even possible that your employer proactively assists you in seeking medical assistance and supports you with your claim, yet their insurance carrier denies your request for benefits or coverage. Our attorneys are here to help in situations like this.
If you’ve suffered a work-related injury and you’re concerned about whether you have a valid claim or about how an existing one is progressing, a Belsky & Horowitz, LLC workers’ compensation lawyer can help. Contact us for assistance today.