Public safety workers in Maryland are given certain benefits through the state workers’ compensation commission. Below, we discuss the rights afforded by law to some of the hardest workers in our state.
If you are a public safety worker who has experienced an on-the-job injury or occupational illness, please contact Belsky & Horowitz, LLC to discuss the specifics of your case in person. We understand the nuances of workers’ comp cases involving public safety employees and will be glad to review your legal options with you at no cost during a courtesy case evaluation.
Who Are Maryland’s Public Safety Workers?
A public safety worker is generally classified as an employee whose job is to protect public safety. Usually, these roles are found in police stations, firehouses, government safety agencies, and emergency medical service providers.
Often, a list of Maryland public safety worker positions will include job titles like:
- Police officers
- Emergency medical technicians (EMTs)
- Border control officers
- Correctional officers
- 911 specialists
- Customs officers
- Air traffic controllers
- State security agents
- Parks, recreation, and forest rangers and officers
As might be expected, these jobs are among the most dangerous in the nation. Public safety employees like police officers and firefighters routinely risk their lives to keep others safe.
The 2022 Annual Report from the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC) shows that, of the 22,075 claims filed that year, the top-ranking industry that filed the highest number of workers’ compensation claims was “Policemen – Security.”
In 2022, employees in this industry filed 1,910 claims, accounting for almost 9% of all claims. The second-highest ranking industry, “Colleges Or Schools Incl. Day Care,” comprised only about 5% of all filed claims.
What Workers’ Comp Benefits Are Available for Maryland Public Safety Employees?
Almost all employers in the state of Maryland are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Workers employed in the public safety sector are eligible to receive compensation for injuries and missed work time that comes in the form of:
- Temporary Total Disability Benefits (TTD), which compensate missed work time, generally up to two-thirds of the employee’s average weekly wage
- Permanent Partial Disability Benefits (PPD), which compensates injured workers left with some level of permanent impairment
- Medical expenses incurred due to the work-related injuries
- Wrongful death benefits for surviving family members of those lost in work-related incidents
- Other benefits for Permanent Total Disability (PTD) or Temporary Partial Disability (TPD)
There may be other special provisions provided to public safety workers under Maryland WCC regulations, such as additional compensation for qualifying injuries. If you’re not sure what workers’ compensation benefits are available to you as a Maryland public safety employee, reach out to Belsky & Horowitz, LLC to discuss your case in detail with an experienced attorney.
Occupational Disease Presumptions for First Responders in Maryland
When your job regularly requires you to put your life on the line, there are bound to be a number of physiological side effects that accompany such a demanding profession.
Public safety workers are regularly exposed to hazards that other job positions don’t have to face. As such, police officers, firefighters, and those serving in other high-risk occupations may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for illnesses and health conditions acquired through the course of employment.
Maryland workers’ compensation laws recognize what are referred to as “presumption laws.” This means that it can be presumed that certain illnesses and health conditions were acquired through the employee’s job (and not through another source) due to the nature of the job.
For example, because being a police officer is such a stressful and challenging role, it can be assumed that any heart disease or high blood pressure suffered by an officer of the law is a consequence of their job and not an unrelated stressor like family life. However, it’s important to note that these health conditions cannot simply exist—it must be proven that they have resulted in “partial or total disability or death” to the employee.
Here are a few of the public safety occupations and corresponding occupational illnesses for which they may be entitled to recover benefits under current Maryland presumption laws:
- Firefighters, rescue squad members, and similar positions: Heart disease, hypertension, lung disease, and certain forms of exposure-induced cancers
- Police officers, deputy sheriffs, correctional officers, and detention officers of specified MD counties: Heart disease and hypertension
- Department of Natural Resources employees, park rangers, forest rangers, and similar positions: Lyme disease
A proposed 2023 House Bill (HB0335) seeks to further address the conditions under which public safety personnel are eligible for compensation for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
This bill would apply to “first responders,” which are specified as firefighters, law enforcement officers, correctional officers, 911 specialists, emergency medical services providers, rescue squad members, sworn members of the Office of the State Fire Marshall, and members of a volunteer fire or rescue company covered under workers’ compensation.
If the bill passes, the employee must meet the following requirements to be eligible for compensation for occupational PTSD:
- Have been diagnosed with PTSD by a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist
- Have completed at least two years of cumulative service as a first responder in Maryland
- Have filed a claim while employed as a first responder or within 18 months of employment
Top Workers’ Comp Legal Guidance for Maryland Public Safety Workers
This area of Maryland law is highly complex and subject to numerous exceptions and qualifying criteria. If you are employed as a public safety worker in Maryland, we urge you to first meet with a seasoned workers’ comp advocate who can provide you with legal guidance on your case.
Proceeding on your own without legal representation could jeopardize your claim and prevent you from receiving the full extent of workers’ compensation benefits to which you are entitled under Maryland law.
At Belsky & Horowitz, LLC, we offer completely free case consultations to help injured safety workers fully understand the rights and options given to them. Our firm is grateful for the service provided by Maryland’s public safety employees. We thank you for keeping us safe, and we strive to do all we can to return even a small fraction of what you contribute to the safety of our cities and towns.