Were you injured while working? Are you suffering chronic pain – mild or moderate – directly caused by the work you do every day? You are entitled to financial compensation to help you restore your health and make ends meet while your injury or illness is treated.
Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance that provides wages and benefits to employees during the recovery period following an injury or illness incurred on the job.
In Maryland, ALL employers must carry workers’ compensation insurance. Despite what you might believe about your injury or “playing it tough,” you should always take action and file a claim. Claims do not cause your employer financial hardship and you should never face retaliation for filing a claim. Compensation for an on-the-job injury is not a bonus or perk of your work, and if you are injured, you are not punishing anyone by filing a claim.
If you were injured on the job, you are entitled to your benefits and should file your claim in a timely manner.
Unfortunately, filing a claim and receiving benefits is not always cut-and-dry. Workers’ compensation is provided through an insurance company, and like all insurance companies, an effort is made to protect the bottom line. This means there are attorneys whose job it is to defend against your claims and some effort could be required to gain access to your benefits, even when your claim is clearly legitimate.
What You Need to Know about Filing a Claim
It is important to report your on-the-job injury a soon as it happens. Any time you are hurt on the job you need to alert your supervisor, so he or she can notify the workers’ compensation insurance provider. Failing to report a minor or moderate injury when it occurs can result in forfeiture of your benefits.
In addition to notifying your employer of the injury, you must complete and file a WCC complaint within two years of your injury. This might seem like a long time, but sometimes workplace injuries cause long-term complications that might not arise for a while after the injury. This gives you and your doctors enough time to assess the damage from an injury. You have a window of time to file your complaint with WCC, but you should alert your employer immediately, even if you ultimately do not file a claim.
Injured workers should also visit a doctor and follow through on any and all recommendations given. For instance, if you are advised to attend physical therapy as part of your recovery, you must do so. Failing to follow through can be used by the insurer’s attorneys to defend against your claim.
Workers’ Compensation is Available for Temporary and Permanent Injuries
Workers’ compensation benefits vary based on the severity of an injury and the time it takes to recover and return to work. In Maryland, there are temporary total disability benefits and permanent partial disability benefits. Temporary disability allows you to receive wages during your recovery, as well as compensation for your medical care.
Permanent disability is paid when an employee’s injury causes permanent damage and he or she will never be able to return to the job because of the injury. These cases can be settled or stipulated, which affects the amount of the award, the length of time the case remains opened, and whether or not it can be reopened later if the employee’s condition worsens. In stipulated cases, insurers are liable for medical bill for the rest of the claimant’s life, unless a claimant eventually accepts a settlement.
Workers’ compensation benefits might also be available for employees who develop a disease on the job. Diseases covered by workers’ compensation in Maryland include:
- Carpal Tunnel
- Black lung disease
- Mesothelioma/asbestos exposure diseases
- Hearing loss
- Hypertension or heart disease
To be eligible for benefits related to illness, claimants must prove the condition is a direct result of his or her job. This can be difficult and is one of the reasons it is important to work with a workers’ compensation attorney.
How Do I Know I Need a Maryland Workers’ Compensation Attorney?
If you have been injured and your employer is supportive and reasonable, you might assume hiring an attorney is unnecessary. Some people are even discouraged by their employers from hiring an attorney. No matter how things seem to be going for you after an on-the-job injury or illness, it is important for you to hire an attorney. Filing a claim is complicated and though you are legally allowed to do it yourself, doing so is often a mistake.
By hiring an attorney immediately following your injury, you protect yourself from day one. If your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance provider challenges your claim, you already have an attorney familiar with your case and fighting for your rights. And if an injury that seemed mild to moderate develops into something more serious, an attorney will help you pursue long-term or permanent compensation.
To learn more about workers’ compensation in Maryland or to speak to someone about your on-the-job injury or illness, contact Shugarman & Mehring at 410.783.4200 or toll free at 888.342.7200.