Does My Injury Qualify for Workers’ Compensation?
After a job injury, many employees feel unsure about whether they qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. While it’s true that the Maryland workers’ compensation system is designed to provide guaranteed benefits to eligible employees, not all injuries are protected by Maryland workers’ compensation law.
What Is a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
A workers’ compensation claim is how employees with work-related injuries or illnesses can apply for benefits. Many forms must be completed, reviewed, and approved by the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company before any benefits are paid.
Workers’ comp benefits may cover all reasonable and necessary medical treatment, partial wage replacement, disability benefit payments, and vocational rehabilitation services.
A workers’ compensation claim may proceed quickly and efficiently if an employer or its insurance provider accepts liability for a worker’s injury. But if the employer or insurer denies a worker’s claim or pays less than the full benefits the worker believes they are entitled to, then a claim may involve a more formal hearing process to determine the worker’s rights to additional benefits.
Do My Injuries Qualify for Workers’ Compensation?
You may be entitled to file a workers’ compensation claim if you suffered an injury or illness that was caused by an accident “arising out of and in the course of employment.” It’s essential to understand what this legal terminology means. Not every injury that happens during work hours will qualify you to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
Imagine you’re a delivery driver. You’re out dropping off packages when another car rear-ends you, leading to a painful case of whiplash. In this case, your injuries occurred while you were performing job duties. Workers’ compensation benefits could apply.
In addition, only employees can file for workers’ compensation benefits. A worker properly classified as an independent contractor may not pursue workers’ comp benefits from the employer that hired them.
Finally, your injury must also have occurred unintentionally, either at the workplace or another location where you work. Getting drunk on the job, engaging in horseplay, or attempting suicide are intentional acts that could potentially limit your ability to recover workers’ compensation benefits.
How Do I File a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
The workers’ compensation process starts by formally notifying your employer that you suffered a work injury. You must report the accident officially, even if the employer already knew about it.
If your employer and its insurer accept your claim, they will file a report of injury with the state Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC), which will file a notice of claim.
However, if your employer or its insurer denies your claim or refuses to file a report with the state, you must file your own claim. The claim form can be filed online, or you can request a paper form that you can mail back to the WCC yourself.
Do I Need to File a Workers’ Compensation Lawsuit?
Don’t be discouraged if your first request for benefits is disputed or denied. You still have rights. You can request a hearing before a compensation commissioner. During a hearing, you are required to present medical records and evidence showing why you deserve benefits. The commission will then decide on the claim, either with a denial or by ruling that you are entitled to benefits.
It’s a good idea to hire a workers’ compensation lawyer to represent you during the hearing. You’ll need to make the most persuasive case possible to improve your chances of receiving benefits. An attorney can gather the evidence necessary to make a strong case on your behalf.
If the commissioner denies your claim, you could file a workers’ compensation lawsuit in the circuit court. At this point, it’s definitely advisable to consult with an attorney if you haven’t already.
Workers’ Compensation Statute of Limitations in MD
Maryland law gives injured workers two years to file a formal workers’ compensation claim to pursue benefits. If you file your claim after the statute of limitations has expired, the Workers’ Compensation Commission will almost certainly dismiss your claim as untimely.
There are other deadlines to remember. You must notify your employer about the injury as soon as possible or within 10 days of the accident. If you are diagnosed with an occupational disease, you have one year from the condition’s discovery to file a workers’ compensation claim.
In fatal workplace accidents, a worker’s family has 30 days to notify the employer of their loss.
Why Should I Hire a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer?
Getting workers’ compensation benefits is not easy. It’s a document-heavy process with a wide margin for making errors. Once benefits are denied, filing an appeal can be time-consuming and stressful. A workers’ comp lawyer from Trollinger Law LLC can help by:
- Investigating the circumstances of your injury
- Recovering evidence to prove why your injury qualifies you for workers’ compensation benefits
- Documenting your expenses and losses
- Negotiating with your employer and its workers’ comp insurer to try to reach a fair resolution
- Preparing and filing your formal workers’ comp claim with the state
- Representing you during workers’ compensation proceedings and fighting for a result in your favor
Applying for worker’s comp benefits with a lawyer’s help can prevent unnecessary stress during an already difficult time. Contact Trollinger Law LLC today for a free initial consultation with an experienced Maryland workers’ compensation lawyer.