Understanding Workers’ Compensation Laws in Maryland
There are at least 3 million workers in the state of Maryland. Of those, an estimated 3% of them suffer occupational illnesses or work-related injuries annually, according to the Maryland Department of Health.
Maryland law requires most employers to have workers’ compensation insurance coverage to cover the medical bills, a portion of the lost wages, and other expenses their employee incurs if they get hurt or fall ill on the job. However, not all workers are eligible for these benefits.
This is just one of Maryland’s many workers’ compensation laws that can be beneficial for you to know about. Some others are included below.
Employers and Employees Covered by Maryland Workers’ Compensation
Md. Lab. & Empl. Code Ann. § 9-202 spells out how workers must be bona fide employees to qualify for coverage by workers’ comp in our state. That state statute describes how an employer must have “sufficient control” over those workers for them to be deemed eligible for workers’ comp benefits. An employer may even be responsible for covering qualifying subcontractors’ workers’ comp benefits if their contractors don’t have adequate coverage, per Md. Lab. & Empl. Code Ann. § 9-508.
Some employers aren’t required to purchase workers’ comp coverage, and there are ones that have workers that aren’t eligible for benefits. Maryland employers have no obligation to secure workers’ compensation insurance to cover independent contractors. Also, employers in the agricultural industry with two or fewer workers or less than $15,000 in labor costs don’t need workers’ comp insurance.
Injuries Covered by Workers’ Compensation in Maryland
Md. Lab. & Empl. Code Ann. § 9-506 outlines a few examples of injury situations that workers’ compensation benefits would not cover. Those include when:
- They don’t occur as part of a worker’s regular job
- Alcohol or drug intoxication is exclusively to blame for the injury incident
- Injuries stemmed from horseplay or some other types of willful misconduct
- Injuries are self-inflicted
Md. Lab. & Empl. Code Ann. § 9-101(b) outlines how an employer’s workers’ compensation coverage must even cover employees injured by third parties on their premises—provided it occurred “in the course” of their employment.
Maryland Workers’ Compensation Claim Notification Requirements
Md. Lab. & Empl. Code Ann. § 9-704 specifies how employees must report their injuries within ten days of the onset of their work-related injury. There’s a 30-day notification deadline that applies in workplace injury situations that result in a worker’s death.
The notification requirement is a bit longer in occupational disease cases. Md. Lab. & Empl. Code Ann. § 9-705 gives employees up to a year to report these to their employers.
Receiving Medical Treatment in Maryland Workers’ Compensation Cases
Maryland workers have the right to choose the physician they see after suffering a workplace injury. Workers additionally have the right to choose what type of medical treatment they receive, whether it’s physical therapy versus chiropractic care or others. Md. Lab. & Empl. Code Ann. § 9-660 outlines how the WCC chooses whether employers must cover a certain type of treatment their employee receives, though.
Statutes of Limitations Applicable in Maryland Workers’ Comp Cases
The statute of limitations, which is the filing deadline, for a work injury or illness claim varies depending on the impairment suffered by an employee as follows:
- Accidental injury: Two years per Md. Lab. & Empl. Code. Ann. § 9-709(b)(3)
- Wrongful death stemming from an accidental injury: 18 months per Md. Lab. & Empl. Code. Ann. 9-710(b)
- Occupational disease: Two years in most cases, but three years in pulmonary dust disease ones, whether or not they result in disabling injuries or death, per Md. Lab. & Empl. Code Ann. § 9-711
Eligibility To Reopen Maryland Workers’ Compensation Claims
Md. Lab. & Empl. Code Ann. § 9-736 spells out how the WCC can adjust compensation in cases where disability is terminated or there are aggravating factors. However, that same statute points out that claims must be reopened within five years from the time of the last payment or date of disabling injury to qualify for this.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits Maryland Employees Are Eligible for and When
Various state statutes describe how compensation in Maryland workers’ compensation cases works. Some of the high points include:
- Calculations of temporary lost time total disability benefits: Lab. & Empl. Code Ann. § 9-621 specifies how workers with temporary total disabilities due to a work accident qualify for a payment that’s equal to two-thirds of their average weekly pay, provided it’s not more than Maryland’s average weekly wage, which increases annually.
- Determinations of average weekly wage (AWW): This is determined by taking the gross average wage, overtime and tips included, an employee earned in the 14 weeks before their last exposure to toxic substances or other dangers resulting in an occupational disease or the onset of their work-related injury per Md. Lab. & Empl. Code Ann. § 9-602.
Md. Lab. & Empl. Code Ann. § 9-728 spells out how the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC) may impose fines upon employers who are late in paying temporary benefits they owe. That percentage starts at 15% of the outstanding balance and increases to 40% at the 30-day mark.
Additional Maryland workers’ compensation laws, such as Md. Lab. & Empl. Code Ann. § 9-620 specify how Maryland workers can’t recover compensation for their first three days of lost work without being out for at least 14 days.
Another state statute, 185 Md. 335, 44 A.2d 811 (1945), describes procedures for terminating workers’ compensation benefits in Maryland.
Disfigurement Benefits Available to Maryland Workers
Md. Lab. & Empl. Code Ann. § 9-627(i) outlines how the WCC can award disfigurement benefits to workers who suffer a qualifying injury or who experience the onset of complications while being treated for their work-related injury. The maximum coverable period per that statute is 156 weeks.
Other sections of the Maryland Labor and Employment Code outline how workers who suffer permanent partial disabilities lasting less than 75 weeks qualify for one-third of their average weekly pay. Injured workers qualify for two-thirds of their average weekly pay in cases involving permanency awards of between 75 and 249 weeks. Workers who’ve suffered the most serious injuries may qualify for as much as 75% of Maryland’s average weekly wage per Md. Lab. & Empl. Code Ann. § 9-630.
There are maximum weeks of eligibility for workers’ compensation for permanent losses of limbs, including fingers, legs, feet, and hands, as well as an eye and hearing. These range from 10 weeks to 300.
Payment of Death Benefits in Maryland Workers’ Compensation Cases
Md. Lab. & Empl. Code Ann. § 9-689 outlines how workers’ compensation covers as much as $7,000. That same statute outlines how a covered employee’s dependents can only recover two-thirds of their deceased loved one’s average weekly pay at the onset of their illness or the fatal work injury. However, that same statute outlines how that recoverable amount can’t exceed Maryland’s average weekly wage.
Md. Lab. & Empl. Code Ann. § 9-683.3 describes how surviving children and spouses of deceased workers are eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits for between five and 12 years, with some exceptions.
Additional Details Covered by Maryland Workers’ Compensation Laws
Workers’ compensation laws here in Maryland additionally cover such details as:
- Coverage of additional medical or disability-related costs, such as prostheses or modifications to residences
- Subrogation of workers’ compensation claims
- Employers’ rights to dispute workers’ compensation claims
Where To Turn for Help in Understanding Maryland Workers’ Compensation Laws
Any laws can be complex to understand; however, understanding workers’ compensation laws in Maryland is particularly challenging. There are many technicalities within the law, including exceptions that apply in certain cases.
This is why it’s best to align yourself with a workers’ compensation lawyer to help you make sense of it all when you’ve suffered serious injuries or experienced the onset of illnesses while at work. We can help you determine your rights to have the best chances of a desirable outcome in your case. Our Baltimore legal team offers free, no-obligation consultations to discuss the merits of your case.