Workers' Compensation

Remember: It is not your employer's responsibility to protect your rights. It is up to you to look out for yourself and your family.

The facts and circumstances surrounding the incident which causes your injury are very important. In fact, they will generally determine whether you will be entitled to collect benefits! This is why it's so imperative to contact a lawyer immediately if you've been injured on the job.

Accidental Injuries and Occupational Diseases

Workers' Compensation
The workers' compensation laws of the State of Maryland are designed to protect the injured worker. You should know what you are entitled to under the law in the event you are injured in a way that will affect your ability to work.

You are also permitted to receive workers' compensation benefits if you have an injury or condition caused by an occupational disease.

Occupational Disease
An occupational disease is an illness, ailment, or disorder effecting workers' in a particular type of job. Unlike accidental injuries, occupational diseases do not generally result from unusual strain or exertion in a job. Rather, they occur slowly over a period of time, and result from conditions inherent to it.

If You Have an Incident

Report the Incident
Before you can receive workers' compensation benefits you must report the incident of injury to your employer. Failure to do this in a timely manner may result in its denial of your claim. Remember to note when and to whom you report the incident of injury.

Give as many details as possible as to what caused you to become injured. It may not be enough, for example, for you to say "I hurt my back while working at my job." Consult an attorney for more information on compensatory issues. Learn what is covered and what is not covered by the workers' compensation laws in your state.

See Your Doctor
In order to receive some form of workers' compensation benefits, your doctor must find that, as a result of your accidental injury, you are unable to work. Therefore, it is important to see your doctor as soon after the incident as possible. You may see any physician you choose, as the law does not require you to see or be treated by a doctor selected by your employer. The doctor you choose will prescribe a treatment program and will release you to return to work when your condition has improved. It is very important that you strictly follow your doctor's treatment recommendations.

Keep Track of Expenses
The workers' compensation laws require your employer's insurance company to reimburse you for expenses you incur while receiving treatment. For example, you are entitled to reimbursement for prescription medicines, mileage, and travel expenses you are forced to incur as part of your treatment. Therefore, from the onset, you should maintain a daily diary in which you keep track of all expenses, including prescription costs, mileage and travel expenses. In addition, you must keep receipts verifying the expenses or you will not be entitled to reimbursement.

Be Careful What You Say
You may believe that if injured on the job you are automatically entitled to benefits. However, the law requires more.

The requirements of 'proof of accidental injury, prompt notice and medical documentation of the disability' must all be satisfied before you receive benefits. Therefore, giving a recorded or written statement prematurely may give the employer and insurer evidence to successfully prevent you from receiving benefits. Therefore, be very careful what you say or write about your claim. If at all possible, consult an attorney before signing any statements or giving any recorded statements.

File Your Claim Quickly
The law allows a limited time within which to file a claim. This time period is known as the Statute of Limitations. While the Statute of Limitations for filing a claim in most cases is two years from the date of the injury, you should file your claim as soon as possible.

If the Statute of Limitations period ends before you file your claim, it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to secure workers' compensation benefits. By filing a claim, you are placing the burden on your employer and insurer to either pay you benefits or contest the claim.

Consult a Lawyer Promptly
If you plan to file a claim for workers' compensation benefits, the sooner you seek legal advice the better. The workers' compensation laws prohibit an attorney from charging a fee, unless the attorney is successful in making your claim for benefits.

Therefore, it should not cost you anything to discuss your claim with an attorney. Your attorney's advice will be very important in ensuring that you receive the maximum benefits to which you are entitled by law. At the very least, you should get legal advice before filing your claim or allowing any person to take a statement from you concerning your claim.

Workers' Compensation Benefits

The four most common benefits to which you may be entitled if you are hurt on the job are:

  1. Temporary Total Disability Benefits. These are benefits which you receive during the period when you are in the process of healing and completely unable to perform your work duties. The amount of the benefit will equal two-thirds of your average weekly wage, up to a maximum amount established by law. Your average weekly wage is calculated by averaging your gross earnings for the thirteen week period before the date of your work injury.
  2. Permanent Partial Disability Benefits. If your accidental injury causes a permanent impairment, you are entitled to compensation for the permanent injury. The benefits are based on a percentage of disability to the part of your body which is affected. They are paid on a weekly basis at a rate established by law.
  3. Medical Treatment. The employer and insurer are responsible to pay any and all reasonable and necessary expenses which you incur for the treatment of the injury you suffer on the job. The right to medical care and treatment for your injury continues for the rest of your life.
  4. Vocational Rehabilitation. If your injury is so severe that you cannot go back to your old job, the employer and insurer are responsible for providing you with vocational rehabilitation services. A vocational counselor will be assigned to assist you in returning to the workforce. Vocational rehabilitation efforts should take into consideration your age, education, work experience, and the nature of the injury you sustained, and should be designed to ensure that you receive the maximum possible salary when you return to the workplace.