Workers' Compensation

Accidental Injuries

Workers' CompensationIn Maryland, for an injury to be covered under workers’ compensation, the harm suffered by the employee must have been caused by an “accidental personal injury arising out of and in the course of employment.” Those words from the Maryland statute are VERY important. Just because a person is hurt “while working,” “on the job” or “at work” may not be enough to qualify.

An accidental injury is one that happens “by chance or without design, taking place unexpectedly or unintentionally”.

For a compensable accidental injury claim, the injury must “arise out of the employment”. If the conditions under which the work is required to be performed by the employer causes the worker’s injury, it is said to “arise out of” the employment. The focus of this factor is on the exposure of the employee to risk or danger because of the job requirements.

For a compensable accidental injury claim, the injury must also “be in the course of employment.” “In the course of employment” is a slightly different factor. Here the attention centers on the time, place, and circumstances of the injury. If the injury occurs during the period of time when an employee was at work, the employer’s place of business or such other location as may have been designated by the employer, and while the employee was performing their job duties or something related to them when the injury took place, the injury is said to have arisen in the course of that person’s employment.

The definitions above were taken directly from the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission website. Although technically correct, these definitions can be confusing and impractical to apply to your situation. To know if the facts of your injury meet the necessary criteria under Maryland law, contact our office today to schedule an appointment to meet with an experienced attorney. The consultation is free.

Public Safety Officials

Public safety employees enjoy certain enhanced Workers’ Comp benefits as the Legislature recognizes the inherent dangerousness and difficulty of these professions. Police, Fire Fighters, Paramedics, and Corrections Officers are all treated slightly different by the Code.

For Fire Fighters heart disease and certain cancers are presumed to be causally related to employment. Police and Corrections Officers have the same presumption for heart disease and hypertension. MD CODE Labor & Employment, § 9-503 creates the presumptions. It states that if a public safety employee has one of the enumerated conditions, it is assumed that the condition arose from the employment. This presumption does not automatically entitle the public safety employee to a worker’s compensation claim. Instead, it puts the burden of proving the causal relationship or lack thereof on the employer instead of the employee.

MD CODE Labor & Employment, § 9-628 provides for the financial recovery of all injured workers for permanent impairment that injured workers are left with after the course of treatment has ended. This section also favors public safety employees. It provides for enhanced levels of compensation for public safety employee.

Public safety employees should also consider the unique circumstances of their employment that may give way to claims that are not specifically enumerated by the statute. For instance, post-traumatic stress and other mental health issues affect public safety employees in disproportionate numbers. Police who regularly qualify with a firearm are prone to hearing loss and there is evidence that the use of hand-held radar guns can cause certain cancers.

We have represented Public Safety Employees since the firm was founded. If you have been injured while working as a Public Safety Employee, contact our office today to schedule an appointment to meet with an experienced attorney. The consultation is free.

Occupational Diseases

Occupational diseases are illnesses caused by the nature of the circumstances surrounding a worker’s job. For example, asbestosis is a disease that may have been caused by a worker’s job of removing asbestos from buildings. Some forms of skin, eye or lung disease may have been caused by long term exposure to chemical solvents or other solutions used on the job. Conditions such as these may result in the employees being covered by workers’ compensation even though there was no specific “accident;” they are covered as occupational diseases.

Occupational diseases are different than accidental injuries in that occupational diseases usually develop over time and are slow and insidious in their onset while accidental injuries occur at a specific moment in time.

Occupational diseases could include many things caused by many different on-the-job exposures. Overuse injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome or tennis elbow could be included as well as injuries to the spine or joints due to wear and tear. Hearing loss due to noise exposure could also be a claim.

If you think you have developed an ailment or illness due to repeated exposure to hazards associated with your job, contact us at 410-869-3400 and schedule an appointment with an experienced attorney today.

Filing a Claim

Don’t be fooled.

  1. Reporting your injury and filling out an incident report at work is NOT the same as filing a Claim Form.
  2. Your employer filing a First Report of Injury with the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission is NOT the same as filing a Claim Form.
  3. Receiving a “claim number” from the workers’ compensation insurance company is NOT the same as filing a Claim Form.

To perfect a workers’ compensation claim in Maryland, you must file an Employee’s Claim Form (C-1) with the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission. The Commission requires that the C-1 Form be filed online. If you do not file the proper C-1 claim form, you do not have a claim and after two years any attempt to file a claim could be barred.

All too often, clients come to our office who have waited too long to file a Claim Form. They believe because they have received medical treatment and money benefits and have a “claim number” that they are protected. Not true.

Do not make this common mistake. Call our office today 410-869-3400 to schedule an appointment so we can assist you in filing the proper C-1 Claim Form online … before it is too late.

Injuries sustained while in a company vehicle

It is not uncommon to have both a workers’ compensation claim and a lawsuit for a car crash. People traveling from jobsite to jobsite and workers such as police officers and UPS drivers that are driving as part of their job almost always have both. Generally, people going to and coming from work are not covered under workers’ compensation, but there are many exceptions to that rule. Among the exceptions are where the employer provides the transportation, where the employer is required to have a vehicle because of his or her job, where a trip is both personal and work related, and where the worker has reached the employer’s premises.

Where both a workers’ compensation claims and a car crash lawsuit exist, there are multiple sources of insurance. It is typically better to collect benefits from the third-party defendant before collecting workers compensation benefits as the workers’ comp insurance carrier only gets a lien against a third-party recovery that is automatically reducible for attorney’s fees and expenses and further negotiable. However, benefits from the injured worker’s own insurance, such as PIP and uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist must be collected before workers’ comp benefits.

Collecting money in a third-party suit before filing a workers’ compensation claim could bar a workers’ comp recovery. Lawyers that only practice in either workers’ comp or automobile cases should strongly consider involving a lawyer that handles both to assist with timing.

There is a lot more to workers compensation law… Questions? Call Mike Mastracci 410-869-3400. You will be glad you did.

I will personally work your case from start to finish