Work injuries can be stressful. Not only do you and your family have to deal with the injury itself, including hospital and doctors’ visits, medical bills, and pain, but you are often left to navigate the confusing world of the workers’ compensation system to try to get those medical bills paid, to get your injuries treated, and to get wages paid while you are out sick. This website will provide you with information about the Workers’ Compensation process. If you have questions or need help, please contact us.
What Is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ Compensation is a program of insurance. Maryland employers with one or more employees are required to have workers’ compensation insurance in the event that an employee is injured on-the-job. If an injured employee qualifies, he/she is entitled to benefits, paid by the employer’s insurance.
How Do I Know If I’m Covered By Workers’ Compensation?
In general, employees who were accidentally injured while working in the course of their employment are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
In many cases it may be difficult to know whether you are entitled to coverage under workers’ compensation. Your employer may tell you that you are not covered, but they might misunderstand the law. If you have been denied benefits, or if you want to know whether you should file for benefits, please contact us.
What Benefits Am I Entitled To?
If you qualify under Maryland Workers’ Compensation law, you may be entitled to, among other things, partial wages, payment of injury-related medical bills (both past and future), and even payment for any permanent disability.
If you miss more than three days of work because of your injury, you are entitled to “Temporary Total Disability” payments (often called “TT” by lawyers). These payments are not meant to duplicate your lost wages exactly. They are calculated to be a percentage of your “Average Weekly Wage” (AWW). Your average weekly wage is typically calculated by adding up the fourteen weeks of payment immediately prior to your injury (including bonuses and overtime), and dividing that number by fourteen. The insurance company should pay you two-thirds of your average weekly wage (though, not more than the State average weekly wage for the year of the injury, which in 2011 is $940.00. You should always double-check to make sure the insurance company is correctly calculating your average weekly wage by collecting all of your paystubs for the fourteen weeks before your injury.
You are entitled to temporary total disability payments until you are able to go back to work, or until you reach maximum medical improvement (that is, you are not going to get any better).
If your Maryland on-the-job injury is covered under workers’ compensation, the insurance company is obligated to pay for your doctor bills, hospital bills, physical therapy, prescriptions and related expenses. The insurance company does not pay these expenses at the full rate, but pays them according to the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Medical Fee Guide. You do not have to pay the balance–your health care providers will accept the amount designated under the fee guide as full and final payment.
You are entitled to treatment for your work-related injuries. You have the option of choosing your doctor–your employer/insurer cannot dictate where you go for treatment. In many cases, we recommend that you go to a different health care provider because the one chosen by your employer is paid by the insurance company, and may be biased toward claiming you are all better when you are not.
If you cannot return to your job or a comparable job, you may be eligible for job training (“Vocational Rehabilitation”). Benefits include testing, job placement, vocational counseling, on the job training and retraining. In general, you are entitled to temporary total disability payments during vocational rehabilitation.
If your doctors conclude that you have a permanent injury, that is, you are not 100% recovered, you may be entitled to additional payments based on the type and extent of your disability. These payments may be made on agreement with the insurance company, or may be determined by a Workers’ Compensation Commissioner after a hearing on the nature and extent of your continued injury.
Are There Any Deadlines I Should Know About?
In Maryland, you should report any work accidents to your supervisor immediately. Even if you do you not know if you will have an injury, reporting all accidents is the safest way to protect your potential claim if you should become injured, or if your injury requires future medical treatment. However, even if you did not report your injury, you generally have two years from the date of the accident to file a claim with the Workers’ Compensation Commission. Please note that official claim forms must be used and filed with the Commission–oftentimes, making a report to your employer is insufficient to protect your rights.