Fighting for Injured Employees Since 1953
While the workers’ compensation system is designed to protect both employers and their employees, businesses take advantage of working-class people far too often. When you get hurt on the job, your employer and its insurance company are not on your side. Even if they appear to be friendly and cooperative, they are protecting themselves as your expense. Even when the employer has workers’ comp insurance, workplace accidents and illnesses are expensive, and both your boss and its insurer want to protect their bottom line. They have experts behind the scenes advising them on the law and its technicalities, and you should too.
At Ashcraft & Gerel, we believe profits are never more important than your health and peace of mind, especially when your injuries or illnesses were sustained on the job. That’s why one of our largest practice areas is workers’ comp claims.
For the past 65 years, we have been practicing this field of law in Silver Spring, Rockville, Gaithersburg, Germantown, Frederick, Prince George’s County, Montgomery County, Southern Maryland, Annapolis, Baltimore and all over Maryland. We are knowledgeable about state rules and regulations and have experience applying these laws, even when we are dealing with workers’ compensation boards and massive insurance companies.
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Workers’ Compensation in Maryland
All employers in the state of Maryland are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance unless they are very large and get special approval from the Workers’ Compensation Commission to self-insure. In the event of an accidental injury or occupational illness, your employer and their insurer have a legal responsibility to provide you with medical care, lost earnings benefits and permanent impairment benefits.
Nevertheless, state statutes use very specific language. Not every harm you suffer at work will be eligible for workers’ comp. Only “an accidental personal injury arising out of and in the course of employment” will provide valid grounds for a worker’s compensation claim. You may also be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if you have what is called an “occupational disease.”
Most Workers’ comp claims in Maryland are based on accidental injuries, defined by the cases interpreting the Workers’ Compensation Act as those injuries that happen “by chance or without design, taking place unexpectedly or unintentionally.” There are exceptions in which a claim would not be covered, such as if an employee was intoxicated or if the employee was engaged in some other misconduct such as horseplay. However, an employer is still required to cover an injury even if the employer can show the employee was negligent in causing his/her own injury. On the other hand, it doesn’t help to show that the employer was negligent, because workers’ compensation is not concerned with negligence by either party. It is considered a no fault law. However, if it can be shown that an employer intentionally injured the worker, in some instances a personal injury lawsuit can be pursued, in lieu of a workers’ compensation claim.
Diseases or medical conditions caused by long-term exposure to the inherent risks of certain occupations, such as repetitive motion injuries, injuries caused by chemicals, lung diseases, hearing loss due to occupational noise or any other circumstance surrounding the inherent nature of the workers’ job developing over a more extended period of time should be covered under workers’ comp, as well. These are called “occupational diseases,” but the word “disease” is not necessarily what we traditionally call a “disease,” and may include many different medical conditions.
No matter what illness or injury you develop, it will have to be directly related to your work environment (arising out of employment) and happen during the period of time of the employment (arising in the course of employment).
If you slip and fall while you are mopping in a restaurant, for example, your injuries would be covered by workers’ comp. If you hurt yourself while going off the premises on a break, however, your injuries may or may not be covered. There are many exceptions and unusual circumstances making it unclear to the untrained eye whether an injury takes place in the course of employment. Consult a professional.
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Statute of Limitations for Workers’ Comp in Maryland
You must report any accidental injury to your employer as soon as possible after the injury, and you must file a claim form with the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission within 2 years of the injury. Similar to accidental injury claims, for an occupational disease, you must file your claimwithin 2 year of your becoming actually disabled or when you first should have known your condition was work related. Some conditions develop over years and you may have worked in your trade for several different employers during that period. Under Maryland’s occupational disease law the employer in whose employment you were last exposed to the condition would be responsible for your workers’ compensation coverage.
Types of Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Workers’ compensation covers accidents, injuries, and occupational illnesses of varying severity. The benefits you will be offered depend on how much time you need to recover, whether or not your injury will have lasting or permanent effects, and other factors. You should never assume that just because you return to work in the same job there are no further benefits. In the hands of a good workers’ compensation lawyer there is often a very substantial amount of money or a settlement available even to those who have returned to work for the same employer doing the same job. If you still have pain or weakness or any other ongoing symptoms, give us a call and we can discuss whether we will be able to obtain an additional award or settlement for you.
The state of Maryland provides the following benefits:
- Temporary total disability benefits – allow time for the injured worker to heal while under active medical care.
- Temporary partial disability benefits – Make up for a part of your lost pay when you return to work and for a limited period of time can only work part-time or in a lighter capacity, with loss of pay.
- Permanent total disability benefits – available when the employee is unable to ever return to regular work on a sustained basis.
- Permanent partial disability benefits – compensate the employee for a condition that continues to cause symptoms, even though the employee is working and sometimes even though the employee is not incurring any loss of earnings.
- Medical/hospitalization benefits – cover lifetime treatments, hospital stays, medicines, services, assistive devices, and other medical expenses that can be proven to be causally related to the injury and provided there has not been a new, intervening injury to the same part of the body.
- Vocational rehabilitation benefits – Help an employee who cannot return to their former trade due to a work injury find new, gainful employment.
- Death and funeral benefits – provide for your family after you succumb to a workplace injury or illness
You are entitled to all available benefits that apply to your situation after an accident. If your claim is denied, delayed, or assessed incorrectly, our firm can help! Even when it appears that things are going smoothly in your claim, you may not be doing what needs to be done to get the best possible outcome in your claim. And sometimes you are unaware that you are digging yourself a hole that is damaging your case.
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Our firm understands how complex and misleading workers’ comp claims can be, and we have been working exclusively with plaintiffs since we opened our doors in 1953.