Employee Rights After a Work Injury in Maryland
Workers’ compensation benefits are supposed to protect employees who suffer on-the-job injuries by paying for certain expenses while they recover. Most Maryland employers must provide workers’ compensation insurance for the benefit of their employees. But the exact rights of an employee after a work injury are not always clear. Some employers and their insurers even refuse to pay the benefits they should.
If you were injured on the job, the knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorneys from Trollinger Law can evaluate your situation and help you understand your rights as an employee. Contact us today to learn more in a free initial consultation.
What Are Your Rights If You Get Injured at Work?
If you are an eligible employee under Maryland law, you have the right to workers’ compensation benefits for lost wages and medical expenses after a work-related injury. Work-related injuries are any injuries, illnesses, or conditions related to your work and that occur while you’re on the job. Depending on the type of work you do, “on the job” may mean at your physical place of work or simply in the course of your work-related duties at another location.
You have the right to file a workers’ compensation claim for your injury regardless of who caused it. This means that even if you were entirely responsible for your work-related injury, you could still file a claim. However, exceptions could apply if you were breaking company policy by working while intoxicated, engaging in horseplay, or engaging in non-work activities. You also don’t need to demonstrate that anyone else was at fault to receive benefits.
If your employer or its insurance provider attempts to minimize or deny your benefits, you have the right to request a hearing by the Workers’ Compensation Commission. If you disagree with the Commission’s decision after a hearing, you have the right to file an appeal. Finally, you also have the right to legal representation at all stages of the workers’ compensation claims process.
In exchange for your right to receive Maryland workers’ compensation benefits regardless of fault, you essentially forgo your right to sue your employer. However, if a third party caused your injury, such as a reckless driver in a work-related car accident, you may have grounds for a personal injury claim. It’s best to speak with a lawyer to understand all your options.
What Types of Injuries Are Covered by Workers’ Comp Insurance?
Only certain types of injuries are covered under Maryland’s workers’ compensation laws. Injured employees are eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits only for injuries that occur while the employee is on the job and because of job-related conditions required by the employer.
The definition of “injury” in workers’ compensation cases includes occupational illnesses or diseases developed by employees as a result of work conditions. Specific injuries that may be covered include:
- Injuries caused by accidents on the job, such as broken bones, head injuries, and electrocutions
- Injuries caused by repetitive motion strain, overexertion, or overuse
- Work-related injuries that aggravate pre-existing conditions
- Gradual hearing loss caused by exposure to excessively loud environments
- Emotional or mental conditions caused by work-related physical injuries
- Illnesses caused by exposure to toxic chemicals or materials on the job
How Long Do I Have to File a Workers’ Comp Claim?
To file a workers’ compensation claim after a job-related injury, you should:
- Notify your employer of the injury within 10 days of the accident or diagnosis, either orally or in writing.
- File a completed Employee Claim Form C-1 and a physician’s note with the Workers’ Compensation Commission within 60 days.
Although generally you must file your claim within 60 days of an injury, the commission may allow you to file a claim up to two years from the date of the workplace accident, as long as the employer was not prejudiced by the late filing.
The time limit may differ in the case of occupational illnesses, diseases, and conditions resulting in death. When employees die due to occupational illnesses or injuries, surviving family members have 30 days to report the death to the employer. To receive death benefits, the family must notify the commission of accidental deaths caused by work-related injuries within 18 months or two years for occupational diseases.
If you fail to file your claim before the deadline expires in your case, you will likely lose your right to benefits. Contact Trollinger Law as soon as possible to speak with a knowledgeable workers’ compensation lawyer about next steps in your case.
Can I Recover Compensation for My Pain and Suffering Caused by a Work Accident?
Like most states, Maryland does not provide workers’ compensation for pain and suffering caused by a work-related injury. The legal term “pain and suffering” refers to the physical and emotional discomfort suffered by accident victims. Personal injury claims can compensate for pain and suffering, but it’s not available through workers’ comp.
The following types of benefits are typically available in workers’ compensation claims:
- Temporary partial disability (TPD) or total disability (TTD) benefits – TPD and TTD benefits provide compensation to make up the difference between an employee’s pre- and post-injury wages while they recover from conditions that temporarily prevent them from working in their usual capacity.
- Permanent partial disability (PPD) or total disability (PTD) benefits – PPD and PTD benefits provide employees with compensation, which could either be for a fixed period of time or indefinitely for conditions that render them permanently unable to work in their previous capacity. If an injured worker has permanent issues of any kind, even if the worker is able to return to work, can be compensated for impairment in a Maryland workers’ compensation case.
- Medical and hospitalization benefits – Workers’ compensation covers the costs of any medical treatment or hospitalization required for an employee’s work-related injuries.
- Wage reimbursement benefits – Benefits pay employees for their time spent submitting to medical exams or attending hearings at the request of their employer or its insurance company.
- Vocational rehabilitation benefits – These benefits pay for the costs of vocational rehabilitation and training for employees who are disabled and cannot return to their former roles.
- Mileage reimbursement– The employer or insurer will provide mileage reimbursement for mileage caused by the need to go to medical appointments as a result of your injury.
- Death and funeral benefits – In the event of work-related death, workers’ compensation can go to a deceased worker’s surviving family members for funeral and burial expenses.
Can I Be Forced to Return to Work After an Injury?
Each time you attend a follow-up appointment with your doctor after a work-related injury, the doctor will make notes about your recovery progress and your ability to return to work. If your doctor states to you that you should remain off work while you are recovering, make sure to receive from them an “off work slip”. This is vital in obtaining your TTD benefits. Oftentimes, an insurance company will refuse to pay you TTD, even in the most obvious situations. If you recover to the point that you can return to work, the Employer/Insurer may file a C6, Insurer’s Termination of Temporary Total Disability benefits.
Receiving this notice typically means that the workers’ comp insurance provider is preparing to terminate, modify, or suspend your benefits.
Often, an employer/insurer will send an injured worker to a defense medical exam (DME) where they are asked to weigh in on your injuries and your work condition separate from your treating doctor. If the DME states that you can return to work or return in a light-duty capacity, the employer and insurer are able to cut your TTD rights off by filing a C6.
If you still need time to recover, an attorney can help you plead your case with the Commission by gathering evidence from your physician and other sources to prove that you aren’t ready to go back to work.
How Can a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Help?
The dedicated Maryland workers’ compensation lawyers of Trollinger Law can help you fight for the full benefits you deserve. We will work tirelessly to understand your injuries, gather compelling evidence that supports your claim, and negotiate the full amount of compensation you need. Contact us today to discuss your work-related injury claim in a free initial case review.