Each year, hundreds of thousands of individuals suffer injuries while on the job in the U.S. The 2022 Annual Report published by the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC) shows that there were 22,075 claims filed between the fiscal year July 1, 2022, and June 30, 2022 here in our state alone.
As for the source of these on-the-job injuries or occupational disease claims (and respective appeals), the following Maryland counties (and one city) made it onto the top 5 list, according to the most recent WCC data for 2022:
- Baltimore County: 3,832 claims, 284 appeals
- Prince George’s County: 2,969 claims, 258 appeals
- Baltimore City: 2,922 claims, 178 appeals
- Montgomery County: 1,963 claims, 186 appeals
- Anne Arundel County: 1,787 claims, 118 appeals
While many employers in Baltimore may be of assistance to their employees as they look to file a claim to receive benefits they may be entitled to, doing so comes at a cost in terms of higher premiums with each filing their workers make. Thus, many companies may be far less than assistive in equipping their workers with the necessary insight about filing a claim to receive compensated medical care or recover lost wages after a workplace accident or occupational illness sets in.
As you continue reading below, you’ll find where we discuss the common hurdles employees face when applying for workers’ compensation benefits. We’ll then highlight steps you can take to minimize the chances of those obstacles adversely impacting you if you attempt to make a workers’ comp claim in Baltimore.
Common Obstacles Workers Face When Filing Workers’ Comp Claims
If you look around your break room at your job in Baltimore, you’ll likely see a laminated poster pinned to the bulletin board that details workers’ rights afforded to you by state and federal law. Your entitlement to Maryland workers’ compensation benefits is likely on that poster.
Obtaining workers’ comp may seem pretty straightforward based on what you read, and it is for many employees hurt on the job—but don’t be deceived. Workers who develop an occupational disease or get hurt at work often face obstacles in trying to secure workers’ compensation benefits despite how simple it seems that it’s going to be to secure benefits. Some of the more common impasses these workers encounter include:
- Misalignment of narrative and actual injuries: One challenge that often causes workers not to have successful workers’ compensation claims is because how they say they got hurt doesn’t align with the actual injuries they have.
- Delaying reporting the claim: Maryland Labor & Employment Code Annotated § 9-704 outlines how employees injured on the job must report that they suffered harm within ten days of getting hurt. That deadline would extend out to 30 days if the injury incident claimed a worker’s life and a full year when occupational illnesses are concerned (as per Md. Lab. & Empl. Code Ann. § 9-705). While missing any of these deadlines doesn’t automatically bar you from recovering compensation (as there are exceptions to rules), it can prevent you from getting the benefits you need.
- Improper noticing of your claim: While your only responsibility is to verbally notify your employer of your injury incident or the onset of your illness, doing so makes it easy for them to deny you ever said anything in the first place. While putting your report in writing may seem like too much, doing so (and keeping a copy of it) may make all the difference as to whether you’re deemed to have properly notified your employer of the claim.
- There weren’t any witnesses to what happened to you: Proving your claim is necessary if you want to ensure you receive workers’ compensation benefits, whether on your first attempt or appeal. Since not having actual witnesses to what happened to you can get your claim denied, it’s always best to report your injuries to a supervisor or a human resources representative at your workplace who handles these claims. Who knows, if your place of employment has surveillance cameras installed, they might even be able to pull footage from them proving what led to you getting hurt.
- Not adequately supporting your claim: Medical records, pay stubs, and other documentation are necessary for your employer’s workers’ comp carrier to process your claim. Additional requests for documentation can not only result in longer-than-average processing times, but denials as well.
- You were laid off or fired: Losing your job shouldn’t prevent you from receiving workers’ compensation benefits for injuries you suffered on the job; however, your former Baltimore employer may plausibly tell you that you no longer qualify because of being let go or terminated. Additionally, it’s unlawful for an employer to change your employment status simply because you file a workers’ comp claim.
Getting Help With Your Workers’ Compensation Questions
If you’ve suffered a serious injury on the job or you’re dealing with a relentless occupational illness, and you’re facing difficulties in getting your employer to provide you with the necessary details about how to file a claim, it’s time to consult with an attorney to discuss what steps you should take next.
The same goes for if a recently, previously-filed workers’ compensation claim has been denied. It may be high time to appeal. A lawyer in our Baltimore law firm can advise on how to best do that.
Your initial consultation with a Baltimore workers’ comp attorney from our firm, Belsky & Horowitz, LLC, is free, so be sure to schedule that initial call or in-office visit right away, as time is critical to preserving your rights in any legal case. And overcoming obstacles to obtaining workers’ comp can take time, but it is a necessary part of this whole process.