Understanding the Basics of Workers’ Compensation

Published on Oct 6, 2023 at 9:16 pm in Workers Compensation.

Understanding the Basics of Workers’ Compensation
Earning a living shouldn’t be dangerous. But the reality for many people is that work can (and often does) pose a serious threat to their safety, well-being, and livelihood. Even if you haven’t been injured, we believe that it is the right of every worker in Maryland to have an understanding of the basics of workers’ compensation.

Key Questions We’ll Answer:

  • What is workers’ compensation?
  • Are workers’ compensation benefits temporary or permanent?
  • Which Maryland employers are required to have workers’ compensation coverage?
  • Who qualifies for workers’ compensation benefits?
  • What types of injuries and illnesses are covered by Maryland workers’ compensation?
  • What types of benefits are provided by workers’ compensation?
  • Do I have to report a work injury to my employer?
  • How long do I have to file a workers’ compensation claim?

What Is Workers’ Compensation?

In the state of Maryland, workers’ compensation provides an avenue for workers who have been injured on the job to recover payments for their injury-related medical expenses and their lost wages. This compensation may also cover additional benefits, such as vocational rehabilitation, which we’ll discuss more below.

What workers’ comp can’t provide, though, is any type of compensation for noneconomic damages. This means that any pain and suffering, mental anguish, or loss of enjoyment in life you’ve suffered aren’t compensable in a workers’ compensation claim. However, if an outside individual played a role in causing your accident or injury, you may be able to recover these damages in a third-party personal injury claim.

You can pursue workers’ compensation benefits while simultaneously pursuing a personal injury claim, as filing for one does not disqualify you from filing for the other. If you believe a customer, client, patient, contract worker, product manufacturer, or other outside party had a hand in your injuries, be sure to speak with a lawyer about your concerns.

Are Workers’ Compensation Benefits Temporary or Permanent?

Depending on your injuries and whether you are able to work again in the future, your workers’ compensation benefits may be either temporary or permanent.

Temporary benefits are paid when an individual is able to return to work after some period of recovery, even if their return to employment is in a different job or capacity. These are generally paid during the healing period.

Permanent benefits may also be paid when an individual is able to return to work after a period of recovery, but has suffered a permanently disabling accident or injury. For example, the loss of a digit or limb may warrant permanent benefits even if the victim is able to eventually return to work, whether in the same position or not.

Which Maryland Employers Are Required To Have Workers’ Compensation Coverage?

Maryland’s workers’ compensation law covers virtually all workers, as every employer (even those with just one employee) is required to maintain workers’ comp insurance coverage.

If an employer fails to maintain this coverage as required by law, they may be fined up to $10,000 by the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC). Employers are also barred from deducting any portion of the cost of workers’ compensation insurance from workers’ paychecks. Instead, they must bear the entire cost of this coverage.

Who Qualifies for Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

To qualify for workers’ comp benefits, you must have been an employee at the time of onset of your injury or illness. Both full-time and part-time employees are covered, so long as there was a genuine employer-employee relationship.

Individuals not eligible for benefits include independent contractors, freelancers, and consultants.

Owners or partners in businesses without any employees (such as partnerships or sole proprietorships) may also be covered if they elected to obtain workers’ compensation coverage.

What Types of Injuries and Illnesses Are Covered by Maryland Workers’ Compensation?

You may only receive workers’ compensation benefits for covered injuries. Understanding the definition of a covered injury is important, because not every injury that occurs while working, at work, or on the job is necessarily going to qualify you for benefits.

According to the Maryland WCC, only an “accidental personal injury arising out of and in the course of employment” is covered.

Occupational illnesses and diseases are an exception to this. An occupational illness is an illness “caused by the nature of the circumstances surrounding the worker’s job.” As an example, workers who develop mesothelioma or lung disease after years of asbestos exposure at work are typically eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.

What Type of Benefits Are Provided by Workers’ Compensation?

If you’ve been injured or developed an occupational illness, workers’ compensation provides benefits for lost wages, related medical expenses, and vocational rehabilitation costs. In the event that a worker is killed, temporary death benefits are paid to surviving family members.

More specifically, the following benefits may be paid:

  • Temporary total disability benefits
  • Temporary partial disability benefits
  • Permanent total disability benefits
  • Permanent partial disability benefits
  • Wage reimbursement
  • Medical benefits
  • Vocational rehabilitation benefits
  • Death and funeral benefits

Do I Have To Report a Work Injury to My Employer?

Yes, in order to be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, you must report an injury, death, or occupational illness to your employer within a prescribed period of time. The time limits for reporting are as follows:

  • Work injury – 10 days from the date of the accident
  • Work-related death – 30 days from the date of death
  • Occupational illness – one year from the date of diagnosis or when it should have reasonably been discovered

In most cases, it is best to inform an employer of an accident, injury, death, or illness as soon as possible. Otherwise, you risk missing important reporting deadlines and losing your right to compensation.

How Long Do I Have To File a Workers’ Compensation Claim?

There are also time limits for filing your actual claim.

  • Non-fatal injuries – 60 days
  • Accident or injury ending in death – 18 months
  • Occupational disease – two years
  • Pulmonary dust disease – three years

If you miss the deadline for filing, you forfeit your right to recover benefits for your injury, illness, or loss.

Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC—Fighting for the Workers of Maryland

As a Maryland-based law firm, we are proud to stand up for the people we call our neighbors, our friends, and our community. When we meet with someone who’s been injured or fallen ill because of their job, we know how important it is to help them recover the benefits they need.

Every workers’ compensation lawyer at our firm has a strong understanding of not just the basics of workers’ compensation, but also all the confusing and nuanced parts that can be overwhelming for the average person to deal with.

We’re ready to help. Are you ready to talk? For a completely free meeting, call or contact us online.



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